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The Cult of Rustic Overtones continues
Big Boi | Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
Def Jam (2012)
December 10, 2012
Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
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"Been a handsome-ass nigga since my mama wiped my bottom," raps Antwan Patton (a/k/a Big Boi, a/k/a Sir Lucious L. Leftfoot, a/k/a Daddy Fat Sax, a/k/a Billy Ocean) minutes into his schizoid sophomore album. A modest boast for most multi-platinum rap titans, but it's quintessential Big Boi: smooth, casually cocky, and weirdly inviting.
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
is all those qualities at once — but it's also Patton's most eclectic batch of tunes since his Outkast peak, branching out into mildmannered indie rock, bright electro-pop, and psychedelic soul. Back in the Outkast days, Big Boi (along with his partner-in-rhyme, Andre 3000, and Atlanta's Dungeon Family production crew) constructed dazzling, musically adventurous hip-hop monuments — one after another, from 1996's
to 2000's groundbreaking
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
. But the duo's neck-breaking counter-balance (Big Boi's effortless cool and Andre's superhuman flow) was always center-stage. On
, Big Boi's rhymes often feel misplaced amid the sonic shuffle: Wavves sits in on "Shoes for Running," but their surf-y, snarly hook overpowers Patton's verses; meanwhile, dreamy closer "Descending" is more or less a stunning Little Dragon track (with its feathery acoustic guitar figure and Yukimi Nagano's angel-diva croon) bogged down by Patton's tortured, nails-on-chalkboard moaning. But more of these collaborations pay off than tank: Kelly Rowland adds sensual flair to the funk-pop work-out "Mama Told Me;" Kid Cudi's typically strained vocals actually make sense in the spacey, synthy melancholy of "She Hates Me"; and the Phantogram-produced "Objectum Sexuality" and "CPU" (in which Patton romanticizes virtual "role-play" while, of course, listening to "Coldplay") are dazzling forays into electro-pop — ideal launching pads for Patton's easy-going charms. "I'ma keep it straight-up player, like a gentleman," Patton promises at one point. Fascinating speed-bumps aside, it's a mission still very much accomplished.
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Atlas Genius are schooled students of modern pop architecture, seamlessly bouncing from Coldplay-styled acoustic rock to fizzy Phoenix funkiness to deadpanned Strokes-ian guitar chug. But When It Was Now is more like an alt-pop NOW compilation than a joyous synthesis.
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