For as long as he can remember, Big Boi -- born Antwan Andre Patton 38 years ago in Savannah, Ga. -- didn't discriminate against musical styles.
"Growing up, my grandmothers and aunties listened to all types of music," he says. "They were never biased about it. We didn't have a lot of money, so I didn't see a lot of shows, other than free ones in the park. But my grandmother would send us to the record store every week to buy 45's (7-inch singles)."
He remembers two records in particular that had a big impact: “Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ -- my grandmother played the (expletive) out of that record. I loved the horns and Bob’s voice, and the vibe from the bass player – that was a real calm, laid-back, dope record with a powerful message. And then there was
Big Boi began collaborating with a likeminded high-school friend,
“The two of us were listening to Fleetwood Mac, N.W.A., the Isley Brothers, the Beatles, Kool and the Gang,
As brilliant as that double album was, it signaled that the duo was starting to drift apart. After a movie and soundtrack, "Idlewild" (2006), Big Boi and Andre 3000 put OutKast on hold.
"I just kept going," Big Boi says. "I record year-round. Dre and I have owned Stankonia for 15-16 years – it was previously owned by Bobby Brown. Basically, I live there. There's a loft upstairs, and sometimes I sleep with the music. On a typical day, I'll get there around 4 or 5 (p.m.), and record all night until the juice runs out, around 4 or 5 in the morning. I'll go to sleep, catch me a little Waffle House, and get back to work."
He has dozens and dozens of notebooks dating back decades containing all his lyrics, poems and musical ideas. “An
Big Boi also works just as tirelessly on finding new collaborators. While on tour for “Sir Lucious Left Foot,” he bonded at festivals with artists such as garage-rockers
"In the A," with Ludacris and T.I., conjures classic Southern G-funk, and "Apple of My Eye" could be a close cousin of OutKast's "Hey Ya." But the murky space ballad "Descending" with Little Dragon and the whistled interludes on the scrappy "Shoes for Running" with Wavves push Big Boi's music into new territory.
"It doesn't matter who's hip-hop or not, I'm only interested in working with the dopest, most creative artists I can find, because it can create something bigger than hip-hop," he says. "I want to make music that's global. I'm an MC first and foremost, and hip-hop is my home, but I don't want to be pigeonholed. I'm more interested in making great music, regardless of what genre people call it."
Does he have a dream collaboration that he'd like to see happen? "Oh, yeah. Me and Kate Bush could do something. I spoke to her on the phone, and she said she was flattered that I love her music. When I go to Europe next, we're gonna have some tea and maybe chop up some beats."