'Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors'
Just in time to lodge itself firmly in best-of lists, the second official solo album from Big Boi finds the Atlanta legend and one half of Outkast striking a Colossus pose, with one foot firmly planted in his smooth hustler persona, the other reaching further into the electronic beyond.
Though a rap traditionalist when compared to his erstwhile partner, the psychedelic loverman Andre 3000, Big Boi has always shown a willingness to set himself apart. Here, he balances his outsize image with a surprisingly rich inner monologue.
Tracks like the Godzilla-stomping "In The A," a city-repping anthem with comrades T.I. and Ludacris, show he hasn't lost a step when it comes to battling - with his cobra-style flow, all slow, sinuous enunciation followed by quick syllabic strikes, as fresh as ever.
But it is the indie-pop influence that both dominates this album and transforms it.
Standout "Lines" is emblematic of this incursion, forging contributions from Harlem wunderkind A$AP Rocky and NYC duo Phantogram into an electro-rap stunner.
While no Drakeian monument to self-exploration, "She Hates Me," with KiD CuDi, is a melancholic deep dive into a relationship's decline that shows Big Boi is looking not just to make a name (he's done that, many times over), but to make himself known. That's always the greater part of the artistic challenge, and the one that is never quite done.