August 25, 2010

Test Spin: Big Boi

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Graham Corrigan gives The Sun his spin on Big Boi’s newest release, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.

After a slew of “creative differences” with Jive Records, Big Boi took full advantage of Outkast’s hiatus and signed with Def Jam in March 2010. Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty is the result, a grandiose and operatic album that reveals tracks that had been locked away for years before finally given the chance to blow our collective mind.

Hip-hop is slowly waking up. After a few years of flashy MCs having sound filtered through endless synthetic glitter-webs, the novelty of electronica is wearing off and a tighter, more tempered sound is emerging. From the genre-spraining Buffalo Bill collages of B.O.B. to the defiant funky purity of The Roots (check out their latest, How I Got Over), the electronic obsession of the mid 00’s is finally dying down.

This album was the biggest release of the summer, no question. What Big Boi has been able to do is unheard of: Left Foot justifies all the Auto-Tune runoff of the last five years, straining its reach to opposite ends of music and slamming these unaccustomed sounds together to virtuosic ends. We hear everything from cheerleader chants to flamenco guitars, glam-rock harmonies to dissonant staccato church bells. The album, like the rapper himself, is articulate and polished, racing through songs and lyrics at breakneck speed. It’s almost too good — it’s hard to follow the orchestral seven-layer cakes served up by Left Foot’s endless list of producers and Big Boi’s blistering verses at the same time without being reduced to a puddle of screaming sobs on the floor.

The highlights are endless: The dark bubbly talkbox of “Shutterbug” has the sort of gut-busting catchiness Auto-Tune almost destroyed, while the bouncing brass on “Night Night” and “Back Up Plan” trades balletic blows with choruses usually reserved for the overwrought anthems of the R&B persuasion.

There are weak spots on every album. Here, we’re forced to listen to Gucci Mane’s semi-conscious dyslexia for a guest spot on the otherwise ethereal “Shine Blockas,” while Jamie Foxx spends most of “Hustle Blood” destroying whatever musical credentials he had bought up until now. Yet even they can’t scar the face of this album … they end up acting more like Cindy Crawford’s mole. The small flaws make it perfect.

Original Author: Graham Corrigan