It's been two years since Big Boi released Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty which gave us a glimmer of hope that maybe Big Boi and André 3000 were alright outside of the institution that is Outkast, but this year's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours has confirmed that maybe it's about time they reunited.
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours is not a bad album, it's not in Antwan André Patton's blood to do his worst, but this album certainly isn't his best work either. Looking at the tracklist, we have appearances from Little Dragon, T.I., A$AP Rocky, Theophilus London, Phantogram and Ludacris. This is a A+ roll call, but unfortunately having big names doesn't always deliver. One simply has to look at the cast of films like Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve to back up this theory.
The subject of 'In The A' with T.I. and Ludacris may surprise you. It's an ode to Atlanta, Georgia (get your mind out of the gutter) and it is one of the stand-out tracks, displaying one of Ludacris' finest verses in a long, long time. 'She Said OK' , which features Theophilus London and Tre Luce, is the ultimate NSFW track about strippers. It is one catchy number, and a stellar example of how the man can spurt out utter filth and yet dress it up in a flawless charm. This is one song that can't be censored at any point, so sing along with caution.
New York electro-pop duo, Phantogram, who have supported the likes of Yeasayer, Minus The Bear and Beach House over the years, make an appearance on three tracks and their presence is just perfection. Two of their songs, 'Objection Sexuality' and 'CPU', see Big Boi delving deep into electronic beats and forward-moving amalgamation of indie and hip-hop. If FutureSex/LoveSounds wasn't already claimed by Justin Timberlake and Timbaland in 2006, it would be the most apt description of the work between Big Boi and Phantogram. It's dirty south meets the soundtrack of Drive.
'Thom Pettie' sees Big Boi's verbal dexterity glisten alongside the mellow and haunting vocals of Little Dragon and the sometimes Outkast collaborator, Killer Mike. 'She Hates Me' (featuring KiD CuDi) shows the more sentimental side of this filth n' fury driven record.
This album is heavy on the collaborations but its sound is Big Boi through and through. He can mould any act of any genre into something new and different. Even Kelly Rowland gets brownie points for her appearance on 'Mama Told Me' which is fun, sexy and dripping in 90s-inspired flirtation. 'Lines' with A$AP Rocky and another contribution from Phantogram is the turn that all mainstream rappers should take as opposed to the big and brash euro-dance sound that has been inflicted upon us copious times over the last 12 months. Sadly, all the good that is cemented in 'Lines' is cancelled out by the Wavves and B.o.B pop-by-numbers track 'Shoes For Running'.
Before its release, there were whispers that André 3000 would make an appearance on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours but even if the man is missing, there is a sliver of quirkiness on tracks like 'Raspberries' and 'Gossip' which call out for the two to mesh their worlds of ultracool and bizarre once more and thrill us the only way Outkast can. While Mr. 3000 is frolicking around with the razor that is allegedly the best a man can get, at least we still have Big Boi holding on to the musical reins, even if this album lacks the punch to make it pow.