Big Boi: Back Up Plan?

By: Todd Davis

Rapper/Producer/Actor; those are just a few of the many hats worn ever so proudly by Antwan André Patton. The globally revered recording artist, professionally known as Big Boi, along with his, nearly, life-long partner-n-rhyme, André “3000” Benjamin, have won numerous accolades; including six well-earned Grammy Awards, and are solely responsible for ultimately selling over 25 million copies worldwide. Their latest, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below [2003], a double CD containing a solo set from each member, is one of only three Hip-Hop albums ever to be certified “diamond” for shipping more than 10,000,000 units. 

Following the release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which spawned the Big Boi single(s) “The Way You Move,” featuring Sleepy Brown, and the Patti LaBelle sampling “Ghetto Musick,” the duo opted to branch out into the world of film. Idlewild, in which they both starred, was a moderate success theatrically, but it opened a whole new door for the group, once known as The OKB {The OutKast Brothers}. 

In November ’05, the self-proclaimed “Daddy Fat Sacks” released a popular mix-tape/compilation project, Got Purp? Vol. 2, introducing his own very talented Purple Ribbon stable of artists. 

Now for the 2009 season, the 33 year old ATLien is finally gearing up for his highly anticipated, “official” solo debut offering, the interestingly titled, Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty…

Let’s just jump right into this brand new solo record, Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty — What does that title represent both to and for you?

Well, shit, Sir Luscious Left Foot is basically me. The mature, more mature, global version of Big Boi, you know. It’s actually just me all the way to the extreme, and, you know, it’s a moniker that I used for years and years. There (is) just so many different emotions and personalities that I got, and it’s just a frame of mind, and they bring out different types of music. So, really, I’m giving ‘em all of me. And, I am the son of Chico Dusty, that’s my father. He actually was an Air Force pilot, and also a Marine. He served in the military, (and) he was a bad, bad man. Maybe one of the coolest, most smartest, guys that I’ve ever known. And, you know, I’m my father’s son, following in his footsteps — Bigger, better, blacker, and deffer!

So, the title more or less serves as a tribute to your dad?

Kinda, sorta — He passed away a couple of years ago, you know. But, I mean, the album’s me. It’s all Big Boi.

What are some of your favorite things about Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty?

All of it, man, you know, all of it. My favorite part, you know, like the feedback I’ve been getting back is, like, you know, “You have an album full of singles!” And, I’ve been just creating on that. I’ve been really taking my time with it, and having people pick like 7, 8, 9 favorites off the record, out of 14, 15 songs. That’s great! So, I just can’t wait till the fans get it. It’s definitely lyrically dominating, (and) the beats are high powered, stupid! I put my heart and soul in it, and, you know, when it comes out we’ll see what they say. But, it’s definitely, definitely some of my best work to date. Anybody’s who’s diggin’ any Outkast album from Southernplayalistic… to Idlewild, they gonna love this one right here. I guarantee that!

There have been talks of your debut solo album for quite some time now — What has actually been holding up the process? Was it just not ready to come out yet?

Nah, nah, I mean, I’ve been working on it for, like, nineteen months, you know, and same when we work on the Outkast albums, you know, we slow roast it, slow cook it, and it’s about ready to come out now. (I) definitely, definitely, definitely can’t wait for the fans to get it.

Aside from, of course, Andre’s absence, how do you feel that Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty measures up to what you had already been doing as one half of Outkast?

Um…It’s really no difference. I mean, like, actually me and Dre hadn’t recorded in the studio together-together since Aquemini, you know. We, both, produce, write, arrange, sing, and do all elements of the music, so we’ve always been working in different labs, you know, and come together and put all our ideas on the table. Now, it’s just all my ideas alone, like how Speakerboxxx was really my first solo record, but they packaged ‘em together. So, this will be the first stand alone solo album, you know.

The set’s first single, “Something’s Gotta Give,” featuring Mary J. Blige, is a very important record, especially in the dire times that we are in, like now, when the economy and such seems to be at its very worst — Was it always in your plans to come with a song of this magnitude for your premier offering? 

It’s how it came about, you know. Basically, the album is a time capsule of, you know, my life and the things I’ve been going through, and the things that I’ve been witnessing since the last time you heard from me on Idlewild. So, you know, definitely the economy and the election, and all that’s been going on on the frontier thing (inspired me). But, it wasn’t planned out that way. I mean, I recorded that record, like, over a year ago, and (it) just really seemed like the right thing to do. I got a gang of jams on there, but, you know, it wasn’t just really time to go to the club right now. It’s, like, we got the biggest election of our lifetime, and I wanted to bring awareness to voter registration, and just people being out there letting their voice get heard. So, that was my choice for putting that song out.

Well, it couldn’t have been released at a better time!

Yeah, man, it’s all…God makes things happen a certain kinda way for you.

In terms of production, who all did you work with? 

Just the usual suspects, man, all the way down. I worked from Organized Noize, I co-produced like thirteen out of sixteen of the tracks. I also got production from Mr. DJ, you know him from the Outkast albums, as well as Boom Boom Room Productions, that’s my production company. I got a squad of producers that I’ve been working with for years, and training ‘em, getting ‘em ready. So, it’s just really just letting out production on this side. Also, Lil Jon and Scott Storch, they were the two goody goods. 

When you’re in the lab with someone such as an Organized Noize and/or a Lil Jon, etcetera, do you usually work together with them on the track or do you just kind of let them do their own thing?

Oh, it’s definitely collaborative. Like even from working with Organized Noize, they’d give me a track, it has a vibe, and I come in, you know, and put that funk on it. All builds from an idea, and I just really know how to close things up.

Explain the process as to when you are coming up with your lyrical concepts and ideas…

Um…There’s different ways. I can be riding in the car, and then something comes to mind and I write it down. Or, I got my trusty voice recorder, where I whisper notes in it all 24 hours a day. It just be little stepping stones and things, so when I get in the lab and actually sit down to write, like I got, you know, different ideas and topics to pull from. So, I mean, I just really kinda document my life.

Sounds like it is gonna be one of them, now non-existent, albums from the “Golden Era of Hip-Hop” where it can be played from selection one right on through until the end… 

Yeah, man. That’s what we do, man. That’s what we do!

How would you describe and/or define the style of music that you create and perform?

There is no definition. It’s free-flowing. No category. You can’t put us in no category. So, I mean, being influenced from everything from Reggae to Blues to Jazz to R&B, Rock, Hip-Hop, you know, our music is a mutant of all of that.

What’s going on with the label Purple Ribbon? Is there an artist roster intact? And, what are your future goals and plans for this venture?

Oh, yeah, most definitely. My solo record is coming out Purple Ribbon/Jive, so this will be the next release off of that. Also, I just released with Puffy, we did a deal with Universal with Janelle Monae, (and) that’s doing very good for us right now. Her EP just came out. If you ain’t got it, it’s on some super, psyched-out, psychedelic, real fresh music, man. Go get that Janelle Monae album! And, I also got a new group that I got, that I’ve been working with them for a minute now, it’s a four-man…It’s, like, a grunge, grunge Hip-Hop Rock band type, sort, called Vonnegut, and I’m about to get ready to close a deal on them this week. And, after that, I have Konkrete, and also got Backbone Fat Face 100, Dungeon Family, and I’m gonna put that out, too. So, you know, just really just grooming my artists, man, and getting ‘em ready.

You recently ended your feud with, former, friend and protégé, Killer Mike — What made you want to squash that “Beef” once and for all? 

I mean, for one, it wasn’t a feud. It was just a situation that happened, and I was just clarifying some things. But, it’s definitely no feud. I mean, (It’s) nothing else. That’s all I’ll say on that. That’s nothing!

Do you think the two of you will ever work together again?

Um…Nah, I don’t really see that happening. Like, you know, I mean, it’s cool. I mean, he do his thing, I do mine. But, it’s about me and the Dungeon Family. And, that’s what I got, my family. My DF family is the family that I rock with.

I know that this solo album doesn’t signify the end of Outkast either — So, when can we, the masses, expect the follow-up to ‘03’s multi-platinum, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below?

Man, as soon as Dre gets finished with his solo record, man. When he finishes that, then we gonna do the Outkast album. But, I mean, we’ve already started, you know, picking out music for it. So, I’ll be turning (in) my album, and then I’ll get to work on my parts of the new Outkast record while Dre’s working on his.

Since 3000 is still working on his solo CD and no date has been set yet, that’s not going to interfere with the whole process of the upcoming group effort, or will it?

Nah, nah, nah, he’s just working right now. We just been in the lab, bro, just been in the lab. I don’t know a date on his, (but) I just know that Sir Luscious Left Foot… is coming (soon) — So believe that!

You’ve also obviously been bitten by the acting bug as of late, with roles in ATL, Idlewild and Who’s Your Caddy? — Will you continue in your pursuit of the Silver Screen? 

Oh, most definitely! But, you know, music is my first love. And, I had a couple of movies that I’ve turned down just to get this album done. The fans was wanting my music, and I felt it to go in and make my record and give the fans what they want. But, I definitely have, you know, a couple of movies and TV shows and things lined up for next year, after I tour and really put this album in they face.

Success — Define yours? And, what has kept sustaining you in this grueling business?

I think it’s the love for the music, and the reasons why we do it. I mean, I record because I love music. I love hearing new stuff, fresh brand new sounds, and, I mean, the love is still there. And, as far as the longevity, you know, we started out, like, you know, people don’t understand, we started out (when) we were fifteen, sixteen years old. Most rappers them days was like…What? Mid-twenties or so, like that, so we had ten to fifteen years to kinda groom ourselves, and really, you know, excel in music, and really study it as a craft. So, you know, I mean, our thing has always been just being better and better and better than the last thing we did. Not consciously, but sub-consciously, just knowing, like, I mean, for me like every rhyme I lay or every beat that I produce, I want it to be more inspired than the last. Like Dre said, “You’re only as good as your last hit!”

Today’s Hip-Hop, what do you really think of it?

Yeah, yeah, I mean, it’s cool, man. Like, I mean, people got their own ways of doing it, you know. And, like, being that the South is kinda like doing their thing right now in heavy rotation, man, you know, you get a lot of people that’s not really liking what the South is doing because it’s like a lot of…It’s, like, dance music, but like I said before, man, Hip-Hop started out in the parks and in the clubs with break-dancing, and Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. I mean, I guess that the South might be going through that sort of period, but as far as lyricism, you know, I’m very happy where it’s going. We got some of the top lyricists in the game right now.

What do you actually make of all this illegal downloading, file sharing, bootlegging, and the blatant theft of an artist’s product that is sadly destroying the industry as we know it? Do you actually foresee it improving in any way?

Um…Yeah, yeah, but, I mean, a lot of that has to do with, you know, the consumer being tricked back in the day. Where, you know, artists will put out one song and then the consumer go buy the whole album, and the rest of the songs is garbage. So now, the consumer got a chance to check your whole project out, to know if he wants to go and buy it or not. And, at the same time, man, if you got some heat, they gonna go get it. The download(s) of course affect sales, but, you know, people hurting right now and they can’t really afford to go out and get music. So, I mean, all you gotta do is just keep making music, man.

What is it like being an artist in this day and age, versus when you all first entered the business back in 1994?

Um…It’s different now, you know. Where now, it’s like more record companies are more shooting toward that ring-tone rapper, that one hit wonder, where before it was all about the artistry, careers and music, about artists building brands, and making complete full albums. Now, it’s, like, record companies get one song and want to sell the ring-tones, which is…It’s a business, but at the same time, me coming from the era that I came from, I mean, I’ve always just been a fan of music, and I’m not ‘bout to do fifteen songs and give you one great song and everything else is just okay. So, it’s a type of mind frame you’re in. If you into selling ring-tones, then it’s a great place for you today, but if you’re into really making albums, you got to get out here and you got to grind, gotta grind, you gotta go shake the hands, kiss the babies, go to radio stations, like we used to back in the day, and start it from the grass roots and build it all the way up.

What has been your career defining moment?

Um…One of the best ones was, I guess, when we won the Grammy for album of the year. Like the first Hip-Hop group to ever win that, if you want to label us Hip-Hop. But, you know, that was great ‘cause we both, me and Dre, had, like, maybe twenty or thirty members of our extended family out there, and everybody got a chance to enjoy it, man. It was definitely a wonderful time.

Projecting, what does the future hold for Big Boi?

Um…I’ll be producing, and, probably, I might still be recording. I’m still young. I got a strong back and a strong voice! And, definitely, scoring movies and doing soundtracks, and acting, you know. So, I mean, I’m definitely gonna still be in music, (and) still keeping this heat out here. 

Any plans yet for you to take the Big Boi show out on the road anytime soon?

Oh, hell yeah! Cara Lewis is my booking agent, (and) right now she’s lining up, probably gonna do like a House of Blues tour first, and then go out and do large venues after that. But, just go out here and jam, man. I got, you know, the same band that we rocked with as Outkast, we still rockin’! We still jammin’! And, we’re just gonna really be blowing stages the fuck up and slammin’ mics down, destroying that shit after we finish. That’s what we’re doing over here, Dawg!

After performing for so long with Dre always by your side, were you a little nervous or scared when you took the stage by yourself for the first time?

At first, I was a little nervous. But, after the first gig, man, it’s, like, you know, the songs are the same, the music is the same, I’m giving the same energy the crowd want, so they’re thirsty for it. I’m gonna quench that thirst, man! So, right now it’s, like, full speed ahead, you know.

Do you have any message for your fans?

Ah, man, to all the fans, man, I love all y’all, man! To all the aspiring rappers and musicians, man, if it’s in your heart, you know, go for it. Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do it — Keep that shit moving!