Big Boi – Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
This album has a lot to live up to. As one half of Outkast, one of the most successful rap groups of all time, Antwan Andre Patton, better known as Big Boi has recorded three number one hits, won 6 Grammy’s and sold over 25 million CD’s worldwide, all the while creating record after record of strikingly original, nigh on faultless rap.
As the first solo album by either Big Boi or his partner in rhyme Andre 3000 since 2006’s Idlewild, there is a great deal expected of Sir Luscious Left Foot. History has not been kind to musicians who leave a successful group to work as a solo artist. Thankfully though Sir Luscious Left Foot is just as skilful, infectious and fiercely inventive as anything Outkast ever produced.
The appeal of Sir Luscious Left Foot is not only in the skill of Big Boi’s rhymes; he’s been around long enough that we can take that particular skill for granted. Rather it is his meticulous production, his mastery of the finer sub-genres of rap that elevate this album from simply good to downright brilliant.
On most other records tracks like Turns Me On, a sexy propulsive grind built on shimmering keyboards and the quick fire drip of lines like “soaking wet, are the feathers in the goose down/who’s loose now/you done let the juice ooze down” or the insanely hooky guitar work on soon to be dance floor anthem Shutterbugg would be centrepieces, but in this context they are just more examples of a rapper who has been at the top of his game for almost two decades.
The guest spots too are well chosen, colouring every track in often starkly contrasting, but always interesting tones. On Hustle Blood vocal Jamie Foxx is the best he’s been in a long time, his yearning falsetto well complemented to Big Boi’s coarse, rhythmic verses. The elegant cadence of Big Boi’s protégé Janealle Monae infuses the space soul of Be Still with a stately grandeur while George Clinton’s growling rhymes make the fuzzed out 8-Bit of For Yo Sorrows, a dirty dirge about weed and addiction, a whole lot dirtier.
In terms of his role in Outkast, Big Boi has always been thought of as if not the lesser, certainly the more conventional of the two rappers, the meat and potatoes to Andre’s lavish desserts. But after this album all definitions must be revised.
It is strange to think that the first Outkast album was released 16 years ago, the equivalent of a century in the music industry, and perhaps Sir Luscious Left Foot’s crowning achievement is that for a veteran who has pretty much done everything there is to do in rap, Big Boi still sounds like he’s having fun. In a recent interview he said that he would keep rapping “till I get tired” and from this showing he is still, blissfully, wide awake.