Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Album Review


Giveaway: Sir Lucious Left Foot on Vinyl (or CD) + "Shutterbug" 12" Vinyl Single ?



“We them type of people...” raps Big Boi in a familiar cadence on Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, referencing Outkast’s seminal “Rosa Parks.” He’s quick to stop himself from getting overly self-referential, though. “It’s not a sequel, no way,” he clarifies. “It’s B.B.’s prequel, the beginning before the beginning.” It’s a telling moment and a distillation of what makes this album so good – Big Boi doesn’t hide from his Outkast association, but neither does he ride on its coattails. Like every Outkast related album, Sir Lucious Left Foot contains a little of this and a little of that, but one thing is clear – this bad boy is all Big Boi.

Granted, that may not have been the plan. A much talked about injunction by Jive Records barred Big Boi and Def Jam from releasing collaborative tracks “Royal Flush” and “Lookin’ 4 Ya,” both of which featured fellow outcast Andre 3000 and were originally intended for Sir Lucious Left Foot. Those songs are dirty good, but their absence is barely missed. What seemed, pre-release, like a potential missing piece from a puzzle, is now relegated to the simple acknowledgement that this album could be even better.

The fact that Andre’s presence isn’t missed is perhaps the biggest testament to Big Boi’s competence. Long overshadowed by 3000’s funky flow, Big Boi uses Sir Lucious Left Foot as an opportunity to let his own freak flag fly. The album skitters and skips around styles – a jazzy southern rock intro, the gospel-based bombast of “General Patton,” the absolutely filthy rumble of “Tangerine,” a stunning melodic duet with Janelle Monae on “Be Still,” and the list goes on. Big Boi builds on the genre-bending base that Outkast built, but he mixes in his own flavor.

The album, which features thirteen producers and sixteen guests across fifteen tracks, rarely seems disjointed or sporadic. Soft spots are few and far between, despite questionable book-by-the-cover inclusions like Jamie Foxx, Lil Jon, and Scott Storch. Nor is Big Boi overshadowed by his stronger features, despite impeccable guest spots from Monae, Gucci Mane, Yelawolf and others. Big Boi’s vision is clear throughout. At no point during the album is anyone else running the show.

The only slight stumble comes on the still very enjoyable “Follow Us,” a mismatched mimic of Kanye’s crossover successes that pairs Mr. Left Foot with Vonnegutt, a hip hop group signed to Outkast’s Purple Ribbon Label. The track is interrupted by a sing-songy chorus that just doesn’t seem to fit on an album that is more concerned with moving forward than spinning in circles. The song is catchy, but seems slightly out of place on Sir Lucious Left Foot;where the rest of the album pushes euphoria, “Follow Us” just leaves me feeling a little cheap.

Let’s not get dragged down by what should really be a footnote rather than a paragraph, though. It’s merely context. Have I mentioned how completely baller Big Boi’s rhymes are? No matter how much ink is spilled about the guests, beats, and styles on Sir Lucious Left Foot, the fact remains that this album is all about rapping. Big Boi’s flow is facile and flexible, running laps around beats and taking the time to do somersaults in the middle. He’s the rapping equivalent of Usain Bolt showboating at the finish line – Big Boi can hold his own with any lyricist out there, and this is his chance to prove it. Interior rhymes, palindromic phrases , and syllabic contortions twist Big Boi’s southern patois into so many shapes that fifteen songs seem like barely a blip on the radar. Every time he comes onto a track it’s a surprise, a new look, the refreshing re-entry of our brave hero.

Albums that are long in the making tend to be disappointments. Fair or not, it’s tough to live up to years of hype. And when the purported lead single for Sir Lucious Left Foot – which, I might add, leaked in 2008 – was barred from the final release, I did not have high hopes. Perhaps that’s what makes the success of Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty all the more satisfying. From Big Boi’s opening announcement that “It is on!” on “Daddy Fat Sax” through the end of "Back Up Plan", which closes out the album, this is a comforting reminder that sometimes, just sometimes, good things come to those who wait.

90 — [Rating Scale]

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