Big Boi: Funky Ride
Hip Hop's keeper of the funk in 2010 tells DX how VIBE reunited the Dungeon Family, and responds to the ever-present Outkast questions.
Which A-list artist is going to release the best Hip Hop album this summer: Drake, Eminem, Rick Ross, T.I., Game, Young Jeezy or Ice Cube? Surprising to some, the most praise-worthy album scheduled to drop during this year’s blockbuster-filled summer might just prove to be Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (due July 6th).
With an all-star lineup of producers (Organized Noize, Scott Storch, Boi-1da, Lil Jon, Salaam Remi) and guests (T.I., Gucci Mane, Jamie Foxx, Bun B, Too Short, Yelawolf, George Clinton, Sleepy Brown, Raekwon, Project Pat) contributing to his Def Jam debut, Daddy Fat Sacks is sure to deliver a scorching hot album to blast on those blistering hot summer days.
The most noteworthy contributor to Big Boi’s upcoming heatwave is not listed above, but one-half of Outkast revealed to HipHopDX on Wednesday (May 5th) that he and his lifelong partner-in-rhyme Andre 3000 are not only contributing to each other’s sophomore solo efforts (their first not released conjoined like 2003’s diamond-certified Speakerboxxx/The Love Below) but will soon begin work together on their first truly joint album in the decade since 2000’s multi-platinum commercial breakthrough for the duo, Stankonia.
Sir Lucious Left Foot also explained during his quick discussion with DX how a recent VIBE article helped bring he and the rest of the Dungeon Family closer together, (but why he has yet to record any reunion tracks with D.F. 2nd Generation member, and friend-turned-foe-turned-friend again, Killer Mike).
But most importantly, Big B-O-I shared several new details about his Funk-filled new album that’s sure to set the streets ablaze this summer.
HipHopDX: …It’s really dope to see somebody keeping that Parliament Funkadelic tradition alive in modern music. Now that you guys have worked together for “Synthesizer” and “Fo Yo Sorrows,” did George Clinton officially induct you into [the] P-Funk All-Stars?
Big Boi: Oh yeah, definitely. When we did the BMI [Awards] tribute to him [last year] – me, Janelle Monae, Dallas Austin, Cee-Lo Goodie, yep, yep, yep, that was the core [P-Funk] nation right there.
DX: I love how you basically paid homage to another Funk legend, Roger Troutman, by bypassing Auto-Tune and instead using the talkbox on “Shutterbugg” . Why’d you decide to go old school wit’ it instead of just T-Pain'in’ it for today’s crowd?
Big Boi: It’s all about showing these younger cats where it came from. And to use the talkbox, I brought in my boy Bosko. That takes a lot of skill and talent to be able to play the keyboard and have the tube in your mouth and hit the right notes. So, just to get that authentic Funk feel [we used the talkbox]. That’s something that you just can’t get from a computer.
DX: I don’t think I’m dickridin’ when I say you got a hell of an album shaping up here: “Shutterbugg” is crazy, and “Shine Blockas” is insane. If I could offer up just one critique of that song though it would be that the third verse shoulda gone to somebody else. Not that your rhyme wasn’t tight, but when I first heard that funky little keyboard line come in to start the third verse I immediately thought of 3 Stacks for some reason. You think a “Shine Blockas” remix with Dre is do-able?
Big Boi: Um…I don’t know, [because I] already did a remix [of “Shine Blockas”]. I got a remix already done in-the-works. It’s actually gonna be on the album. And that’s got Bun B and Project Pat on it. So the clips are fully loaded [for my album]. [But] me and [Andre 3000] got some other stuff brewing, some real special things going on. So, yeah, that definitely woulda been good to have him on there, but things are good for the time.
DX: I heard that snippet for “Lookin’ 4 Ya” with 3000. It sounds promising. You know I gotta ask, it’s my job, can you give your folks at HipHopDX any details on those other two tracks Dre was involved in for the album?
Big Boi: Uh, it’s kinda top secret… “Lookin’ 4 Ya” [is] definitely one of ‘em. And I’ll give you a little bit on the new one, the newest one [that we did] is the one that [Andre 3000] produced, and that has Yelawolf on there. It’s me and Yelawolf just trading bars, killin’ shit.
DX: You got a tentative title for that [song]?
Big Boi: Not yet, it’s still up in the air. I’m just closing [the album] out. I don’t have to turn everything in till like – I got like two-and-a-half weeks. So, anything can happen in that time.
DX: How much of this album, the final tracklisting, you think is gonna differ from the last listening session [you had for the album]?
Big Boi: It’s like maybe three new songs on there. And that’s basically it; I mean it’s been really locked down for awhile. All I been doing is just maybe coming in [and] adding different elements of sound to it, or maybe different vocal riffs and things like that just to spice it up. But it’s basically been done for over a year now.
DX: And the couple-year-old stuff, “Royal Flush” the song "Something's Gotta Give" with Mary J. Blige, that’s not gonna make it?
Big Boi: “Something’s Gotta Give” [with Mary J. Blige] is not gonna be on there. That was just really for the time [leading up to the presidential election in 2008]. That was basically to get people out to the polls to vote. But, “Royal Flush” will be on the deluxe version of the album. I think the deluxe version I’ll probably have about 16 to 17 [songs] on there.
DX: Now, you know since I brought up Dre I gotta ask that mandatory question [Laughs]… Dre told VIBE last year for Linda Hobbs’ detailed Dungeon Family feature that he wasn’t completely sure about another Outkast album, and that, “To be honest, if it wasn’t for Big Boi, Outkast probably wouldn’t be around.” So is Dre really ready for another go-round or…?
Big Boi: It’s top secret information, I couldn’t even [phone cuts out]. He told me, once we met and talked about the whole “Shutterbugg” concept for the song and everything…it was like, we [decided it was] best to keep the Outkast stuff kinda under wraps. ‘Cause when people pick different quotes they’ll take it and run with it and pull more out of it than what it really is. So, when it’s time we will let them know.
And what he meant by the quote in the VIBE magazine is [back in ‘93] if it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t be no Outkast, because after L.A. Reid didn’t sign us the second time Dre was like, “Fuck this music shit.” And I was like, “Man, we can’t give up now.” This [was] before we even did Southernplayalistic. That was [the time frame he was referring to with] that quote.
DX: You’re talking about all the way back when initially [L.A. Reid] didn’t wanna sign y’all [to LaFace], before “Player’s Ball.”
Big Boi: Right. That’s what [Andre 3000] meant by that quote. See how things can be taken out of context [to be made to look like he’s referring to the group currently]. I was a soldier [back in ‘93] to be like, “Man, fuck this shit, this Outkast, we’ll get a deal somewhere [else if we have to].” Just really the motivating and the driving force behind the group, to keep it going [in those early days]. Like, that’s what I do.
DX: You ever throw it back at L.A. [for initially not wanting to sign y’all]? [Laughs.]
Big Boi: [Laughs.] Nah, things happen for a reason. I mean, you can get discouraged after we showcased for this man two times and he was like, “Nah, I don’t think they ready.” And we were so antsy and ready to come out, [so] yeah Dre did get discouraged and was like, “Man, fuck this shit.”
DX: You cut out on me there earlier…you’re saying you talked to Dre when you were making “Shutterbugg”?
Big Boi: Yeah. When I finished everything up – This is our ritual. At the end of every album, we always sit down [together] and play it and critique it – whether it be Aquemini or Speakerboxxx/Love Below. So when I finished this record, I went out to his house and I sat down and I asked him what’s the do’s and don’ts [on my album], and what you think [I] should do [differently]? And he was like, “Man, don’t fuck with nothing. [Just] put this song out first.” He picked “Shutterbugg” [as the first single], and it was the best thing that he ever could’ve done.
DX: Are you doing the same for his solo album?
Big Boi: I’m just going out there just checkin’ it out, [just] listening to it right now.
DX: What’s the early buzz?
Big Boi: I can’t tell you, we wanna keep it all under wraps. It’s coming though. He been working on it diligently. Every single day he’s been locked in his house – he got his new studio there. So he’s just been really putting it together – on the beat side and the rhymes.
DX: You can’t confirm or deny if you’re on there?
Big Boi: Oh, I’ll be on there.
DX: I don’t wanna rehash too much of the VIBE piece, but one other quote I wanted to ask you about is…what you thought when you read Big Gipp’s quote in the VIBE piece when he said he was pissed off at you guys for not doing another Outkast album and that [in reference to the group], “Sometimes people trying to run away from something you can’t really run away from”?
Big Boi: [Short pause] Man, I don’t even know what niggas be thinking when they be saying stuff sometimes. To be honest with you…I mean, I don’t know. It was a lot of stuff that was said [in that VIBE piece] that kinda took people by surprise… People got they own opinions, but I don’t even know what the fuck he was talking about. [Laughs] If you wanna know the truth, I don’t know what the fuck he was saying.
DX: Did that VIBE piece prove more divisive or more unifying? ‘Cause it was like, it seemed cathartic but also like…Cool Breeze is saying some shit and everybody’s like [taking shots at each other].
Big Boi: It was definitely more unifying, because you got a chance to see where everybody was coming from, everybody got a chance to speak their piece. [And] from that came another Dungeon Family meeting, and then everybody just headed to the studio. Goodie Mob got in the studio. Then Rico [Wade] got in the studio with Cool Breeze and Big Rube. And we all went back and met at Stankonia [Studios]. So, I think [the VIBE piece] was a good thing.
DX: How involved was Rico and the rest of Organized Noize on your solo album?
Big Boi: They were very instrumental. I started out recording with them. Actually, I started out recording at the Dungeon – certain records that I got [I did there]. The first set of beats I got was from Rico and Ray [Murray]. It’s been like that from the beginning, I always go to them to get what they got [and then] kinda build around that… “Fo Yo Sorrows” [was one] of the first records that I got from ‘em.
DX: I guess since we’re talking about reunification I gotta ask this question, how come Big Boi and Killer Mike haven’t gotten it in since y’alls on-camera reunion filmed by ATL-based scribe Maurice Garland almost two years ago, in the summer of ‘08?
Big Boi: Um…I been busy, man. I’m busy; I’m doing my own thing right now. And [Mike Bigga] still doing his thing. We just ain’t – I been focusing on [Sir] Lucious Left Foot, basically. That’s all that is.
DX: Mike sounded pretty frustrated last summer when he told me that he tried in vein to reach out after that filmed reunion to get you on a track of his. I gotta ask, the “Fired my boss” shit, the alleged scrap y’all had, was that too much to overcome to put y’all back in the studio together?
Big Boi: See, that’s what I’m saying [about] words [getting] twisted up. Me and him never got into a scrap, ever. We never got into a scrap. It’s just that, my mind is just on me right now. [After Dre] was like I don’t wanna do the record company thing anymore, with Aquemini [Records], and I adopted it and turned it into Purple Ribbon, it’s just like…it’s a lot when you got four or five artists and your own career to focus on. So, I took time away from myself, for like three or four years, trying to build everybody else’s careers, and so then it was time for me. That’s all that is, it’s time for me.
DX: …Purple Ribbon, is that still operational…?
Big Boi: Yep, it’s still operational. I got a new [all-white alternative] group called Vonnegutt. They actually appear on [my] album. My man Kyle Lucas and Neil Garrard [from the group], they appear on a song that’s produced by Salaam Remi called “Follow Us” – dope jam. I also got Janelle Monae. She’s got an album coming out [via Bad Boy Records] May 18th, The ArchAndroid. Me and her got the new single out called “Tightrope.” As well as BlackOwned C-Bone, my homeboy, got the new single out “Tell C-Bone” and the mixtape Strong Pack. [And] I’m looking for talent as well right now. Now that I got my album just about closed out I can kinda spread myself like the peanut butter.
DX: Did I read correctly…that Goodie Mob might be one of those new [signings to Purple Ribbon]?
Big Boi: No, no, no, Goodie Mob? Nah, I’m not gonna sign the Mob. I don’t know who they’re gonna sign with.
DX: You got any early buzz on that project? I heard it’s supposedly underway…
Big Boi: Yeah it’s underway… I think they started out working with Organized Noize off the top, but then they’ve been on the west coast doing some stuff… I been on the road, so I ain’t really heard a lot of [their new album].
DX: Let’s wrap things up by getting back to [your new album]… “General Patton,” I heard a snippet [of the song], it’s crazy. That’s the next single?
Big Boi: I don’t know, man. I don’t know which direction I wanna go in yet. I’ma go back out there and talk to Dre. I told him I need him to pick this next one [too]. [Laughs.] I can tell you this though, I did shoot a video for it. There’s a video already for that one, already shot and in the can. It’s like one of my favorite songs on the [album]… That’s for the hardcore Hip Hop lovers, straight up.
DX: And, I heard you say in an interview you did that you’re already working on the next Big Boi solo album…?
Big Boi: Yeah…I just like to keep recording, man. In the meanwhile, while we try to piece together the ‘Kast record and see which records we’re gonna use for the ‘Kast album, I just been steadily recording records. For this album right here I recorded maybe 30-something, almost 40 records… I’m piecing together the next album too, the follow-up to Lucious Left Foot.
DX: But the [release] order is gonna be Lucious Left Foot, then Outkast, then the next Big Boi solo joint?
Big Boi: No, Lucious Left Foot, Andre 3000, then the ‘Kast record, and then we’ll see what’s gonna happen after that.
DX: [That’s] gonna be like 2016 [Laughs.]
Big Boi: Hey man, gotta keep recording. It’s all about spreading the love and really saturating the Funk into the system. That’s what we specialize in.