Aside from being an exceptional solo lyricist, Atlanta’s Antwan André Patton, better known as Big Boi, is one half of arguably the greatest duo in hip-hop history.
Whether dropping bombs over Baghdad, apologising to Ms. Jackson or turning a Christmas song into one of the greatest debut tracks of all-time, Outkast belong on the Mount Rushmore of rap groups.
Now on his third solo outing - his first for Epic Records since cutting ties with Def Jam - Big Boi is ready to unleash the first of two projects. While details surrounding the second instalment remain close to his chest, he’s preparing to drop the first, entitled ‘Boomiverse’, imminently.
As full of variation as all previous Big Boi albums, ‘Boomiverse’ is a complex body of work full to the brim with big name features, lyrical excellence and the best of the best as far as production goes.
Absorbing as much of it as we possibly can, here are seven things we learnt from his London listening session…
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1. André 3000 is not on the album.
While it’s likely we’ll never ever hear another Outkast album, surely there’s still potential for a Three Stacks and Big collaborative track! However, those hoping the two might have reunited for Big’s third solo LP will need to carry their hope over to the next project either of them announce as there’s no sign of Ice Cold here.
That said, ‘Boomiverse’ isn’t without a selection of stellar guests. Boasting names such as Snoop Dogg, Gucci Mane, Pimp C, Kurupt, Jeezy, Curren$y and of course his Dungeon Family brethren Killer Mike, the fact that André 3000 is missing in action isn’t the end of the world.
2. Big Boi and Killer Mike have a joint album in the works.
It’s no secret that Big Boi and Killer Mike are good friends. Like a Jedi and his young Padawan, the teacher and the student have worked together for a number of years on various different projects continually learning from one another along the way. Even their much publicised feud that hit its height in the mid-2000s couldn’t stop them from staying tight after settling their differences.
So with that said it’s almost no surprise to learn the pair have got a joint album in the works. Not being clear exactly as to whether or not they purposely recorded an album together or if it just happened due to the amount of material they have stashed away, Big did tell the room that he and Mike have discussed the idea and it’s something they’ve wanted to do for quite some time. Mike appears on ‘Boomiverse’ three times, including on the album’s lead single, ‘Kill Jill’.
3. Big Boi spits over his first Mannie Fresh beat.
This doesn't even sound right, does it? Two of the most iconic names in southern hip-hop, Big Boi and Mannie Fresh have never properly worked together. Okay, so there was that one Dallas Da-vidson country music track - ‘Laid Back’ - but that doesn’t count! On ‘Boomiverse’ the two well and truly get it in. Teaming up on ‘Follow Deez’, two other guests join Big and Mannie for the ride: Curren$y and Killer Mike.
On the hardest track of the album - and quite possibly the best - it’s dark, dirty and lyrical, leaving you feeling like you’re in Atlanta, even if you’ve never been there before. We’re without doubt here for more Big Boi and Mannie Fresh collabos.
4. As the title suggests, the album is one big ‘Boomiverse’.
In the ‘Boom’ skits on Devin the Dude’s ‘Waitin’ To Inhale’ album, the Houston rapper comically hounded a studio assistant for an 808 but wasn’t quite sure how to ask for what he was looking for. Perhaps he should have just asked Big Boi, because on ‘Boomiverse’ he’s found what the former Rap-A-Lot artist was looking for!
Playing like one long 808, ‘Boomiverse’ is a masterclass in bass. From the moment you first push play to the very last track you’re met with deafening bass drops that essentially should be branded illegal. You’ll be hard pushed to find a track that doesn't build itself around a bassline so you might want to invest in some protective headphones.
5. Boomiverse features unreleased Pimp C vocals.
Posthumous unreleased Pimp C vocals don’t come around all that often. They’re not like 2Pac or Biggie vocals that seem to pop up and do the rounds every year. So when one of hip-hop’s most respected MCs delivers a new track that features some newly liberated vocals from Sweet Jones himself there’s no doubt that excitement should ensue. Titled ‘In the South’, according to Big Boi the best way to describe the track is as some “elite street shit”.
A southern street anthem that also features Gucci Mane, if the last time Big Boi and Pimp C collaborated on a track together - 2007’s ‘Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)’ - is anything to go by then this is a must listen.
6. Big Boi flexes his vocal chords.
Andre 3000 is often looked at as the only member of Outkast who can hold a note, but on ‘Boomiverse’ Big Boi sets out to prove this assumption wrong. On ‘All Night’ Sir Lucious Left Foot gets his Sammy Davis Jr. on crooning all over the upbeat Dr. Luke produced track.
Evoking various emotions, ‘All Night’ is a very fun moment that one minute finds itself laced with a vintage piano arrangement that feels like a nod to ‘Idlewild’, and the next it transitions into a soundscape dominated by an acoustic guitar. Despite a disclaimer that he’s not the greatest singer in the world, he just felt like having a go, Big’s vocals just work on this track.
7. There is a hard house record on the album inspired by one of Big Boi’s DJ residencies.
Yes, you read correctly. Big Boi has himself a hard house track on ‘Boomiverse’. ‘Chocolate’ has Ibiza summer party soundtrack written all over it. An electronic backdrop dominates while a live cymbal layered over the top gives the electronic number a sense of musicality, instead of it being reduced to a stereotypical dance track.
Apparently inspired by Big’s time holding down a DJ residency in an undisclosed location, fans shouldn’t be too surprised when hearing ‘Chocolate’ being as the Dungeon Family representer always offers something a little left of the middle. Think ‘Ghetto Musick’ and ‘Drum Machine’ and you should have an idea of what to expect.
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‘Boomiverse’ arrives June 16th via Sony RCA.
Words: Will Lavin