Album review: Big Boi’s ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot ….The Son of Chico Dusty’
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“I got a backup plan to the backup plan to back up my backup plan,” Antwan “Big Boi” Patton spits on this long pleasure cruise of an album. The neat repetition might allude to the many obstacles that stood between Outkast’s fleet-tongued street don and his official solo debut. Happily, it also describes the music’s depth and complexity — a feat, given the label disputes that stalled the birth of “Sir Lucious Left Foot,” described in Big Boi’s bio as his newly minted mature identity, and the outsized expectations greeting its arrival.
Outkast stands virtually alone as a hip-hop triple threat, possessing hard-rhyming rap credibility, risk-taking artiness and hooky chart smarts. Big Boi has always brought the block to the party, but this collection proves he’s doing more than smoking blunts out back while his partner Andre 3000 played around with psychedelia and funk. “Sir Lucious” highlights his focused language skills within musical settings that touch upon rock, electro, dubstep and classical fanfare, grounded in a thick bottom that guarantees plenty of booty bounce.
Big Boi has said that he jumped to Def Jam after executives at Outkast’s label, Jive, told him “Sir Lucious” is “a piece of art, and they didn’t know what to do with it.” But in the era of avant-goddess M.I.A. and mope rapper Drake, the depth of “Sir Lucious” also seems perfectly pop.
Tracks like “Shutterbugg” and “Tangerine” are plenty sticky with that icy electro edge that dance floor mavens love, and on-point guest turns by Cutty and T.I. “Shine Blockas,” with sleepy Gucci Mane doing some of his finest work, is made to pour out of a car window. And “Follow Us” turns the Marietta, Ga., alt-rock band Vonnegutt into Big Boi’s personal OneRepublic.
Tasty cuts abound here, but “Sir Lucious” is most enjoyable as a complete listening experience. Big Boi shows off his quick thinking throughout on rhymes that don’t tell stories as much as entertain with consistent wit, the way a real raconteur does during a hazy summer back-porch hang. Whether the mood is cosmic, as when George Clinton stops by, or bright, sparkled up by vocals from Janelle Monáe, Big Boi represents himself as both sophisticated and grounded.
He may quote Dizzee Rascal while chasing ladies with Jamie Foxx (on the sweltering “Hustle Blood”), but Big Boi dwells in the dynamic Atlanta scene that’s always fed him. Appearances by Sleepy Brown, Joi, Khujo, and B.o.B. — and production from a coherent array of mostly ATL-based trackmasters, heavily anchored by Organized Noize — almost make up for the Jive-enforced absence of Andre, and show what Big Boi was doing during all that delay: hanging with his people, getting stronger, turning plans into action.
— Ann Powers
“Sir Lucious Left Foot ….The Son of Chico Dusty”
Three and a half stars
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