THE GRADE A-
BOTTOM LINE Taking on a wide swath of hip-hop’s various styles at once.
Big Boi, the more street-wise half of OutKast, has always had the enviable skill of crafting hip-hop that sounds simultaneously groundbreaking and immediately familiar.
For his third solo album, Big Boi expands his hip-hop universe far beyond the Dirty South, hence “Boomiverse” (Epic), without losing his masterful command of his surroundings.
The single “Mic Check,” featuring Adam Levine, rides a retro-’80s groove that could have rolled off the latest Bruno Mars album. But Big Boi’s distinctive flow and next-level rhymes (“Do you really know the meaning of life or are you sleeping?”) keep things fresh.
His collaborations with Killer Mike, who appears on three of the 12 tracks, are at the other end of the spectrum, as Mike’s thunderous flow makes us hang on his every word in the trap-influenced “Made Man” with Kurupt.
He doesn’t abandon the Dirty South completely, assembling the hazy “In the South” to include a posthumous verse from Pimp C. The catchiest jam here, though, is “Chocolate,” built on a thudding four-on-the-floor beat that is truly irresistible and should be pounding out of car speakers soon enough. That’s what “Boomiverse” was designed for, after all.