Who could have guessed that the Outkast’s more gangsta half would put out the most revolutionary hip-hop album of the new decade? While many could have predicted something along these lines from André 3000, Three Stacks has been content to do some seriously subpar acting (“Four Brothers,” anyone?), Big Boi has gone and done a bad thing. Bad in the sense of good.
Starting with the ultra-catchy single “Shine Blockas,” which dropped sometime late last year, and continuing with “Shutterbugg” the hype for Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty reached fever pitch (at least for me) before its July release date. And boy oh boy did it deliver.
The album opens with the pounding “Daddy Fat Sax” and only lets its foot off the gas occasionally — like the out of place “Be Still” — on the way to redefining what hip-hop could and should sound like. There are horn hits, there’s outrageous boasting and most of all there’s Big Boi, presiding over the entire collection with a confident cool born from years of practice. This may not be the most consistent album of the year — some tracks fall flat, like the aforementioned “Be Still” — but it delivers about 75 percent of the time, and when it delivers it delivers music that makes me want to drink three Four Lokos and figure out where I’m at after the record finishes.
I defy anyone to name a better, more exciting, more original set of tracks than the second to the ninth of this album. Yeah, you could say Arcade Fire or LCD Soundsystem did it better this year, but those groups have been churning out quality of much the same stripe for years. They don’t come close to matching the energy and intensity of Big Boi’s foray into solo artist territory. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to it on repeat for the rest of the week.