Big Boi of Outkast Shoes for Running 2013 World Tour

Big Boi

Big Boi

A 20-year career as a Hip Hop artist is rare. A 20-year career as a Hip Hop artist who gets better with every album is unheard of. But in the case of Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, it’s no surprise.

As one half of Outkast with his partner in rhyme Andre 3000, Big Boi blazed trails and broke blueprints with three certified classics; 1994’s Southerplayalisticadilacmuzik, 1996’s ATLiens and 1998’s Aquemini. The duo then brought in the new millenium by selling four million copies of their genre-defying fourth studio album Stankonia only to follow it up with the diamond-selling opus Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.

Now, nearly a decade later Big Boi continues to break ground on his own with his second solo album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. The follow up to 2010’s critically-acclaimed Luscious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Vicious Lies… seeks to bring the truth in an era where anything but is accepted as the real.

“I borrowed the title from my Grandmother who passed away,” explains Big. “She beat cancer twice and the family said she needed to make a movie about her life. She said she would write a book instead and call it Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors because she was going to tell it how it is. So to me the title is a search for the undisputed truth. We’re living in the information age with everything at your fingertips. But at same time, with social media you can take something and it will spread whether if it’s true or not.”

Describing the album as “one-half Outkast, one whole of me,” Big Boi takes sole possession of the wheel behind the Cadillac that is the Outkast legacy and cruises into unchartered territory with his thirst to expand the rules of music serving as the navigation.

The rap veteran known as General Patton shows off his rank on the lyrical exercise “The Thickets” and later leads the charge on “In the A” featuring fellow Atlanta troops T.I. and Ludacris. Futuristic funk is explored on the digital jams “Objectum Sexuality” and “CPU,” both featuring indie pop duo Phantogram. Then Big opens up the soul basket and talks about the gain and pain of relationships on “She Hates Me” featuring Kid Cudi.

Even while being established with six Grammy Awards and 25 million records sold worldwide Big Boi proves that he can still spar with the new jacks when he recruits A$AP Rocky for the Organized Noize-produced “Lines” and sprint with the current stars on the adrenaline-pumping “Shoes For Running” featuring B.o.B. Also a master of melody, Big displays his “funk throat” on the playful “Raspberries” featuring long time collaborator Scar and bounces over in-house producers The Flush’s pulsating pianos on the lead single “Mama Told Me” featuring Kelly Rowland.

“I’m a student of music, I always looked at myself as a young Luke Skywalker,” says Big, insisting that none of the special appearances or production came from phone calls but from serendipity and surprise visits. “I always want to learn about the music and use all different genres. I don’t even look at the cameos on the album as multiple features. I see them all as pieces that go together.”

Keeping the Outkast artistic tradition alive, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors’ album art is presented as a pocket-sized art gallery with customized paintings to accompany each track. The Rolling Stone-esque logo with the clinched teeth featured on the CD represents how in these times you have to be careful about what you say. Big has made a name for himself being selective with his words, which is why each one he says to this day means something special.

“Today’s trend is that you come in, get hot and disappear,” says the living legend. “You’re not supposed to come out, get hot, do the biggest album ever and then keep cruising to where it’s undeniable. If you don’t like this album, you don’t like music.”

with special guest Killer Mike

with special guest Killer Mike

How many times have you heard someone complain that contemporary rap music lacks its modern day Public Enemy equivalent? You’ve probably said it yourself. We all have. But we need to stop. Yeah, Public Enemy is inviolate and irreplaceable, but Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music is the closest we’re going to get to an ideal soundtrack for a Do the Right Thing remake.

It’s no surprise that the beats come from Brooklyn, courtesy of El-P, a hip hop artist, producer and entrepreneur who is the borough’s resident laureate of urban apocalypse. Snares crash like abandoned buildings being blown up. Synthesizers ooze with a diseased glow of something dying in a toxic water supply. The effect is like a futuristic junkyard come to life. In the midst of the decay of post-industrial New York, Killer Mike, hip-hop inferno, pours fuel on the already inflamed.

For all the New York claustrophobia, the heart of the record barrels through I-20, Westside Atlanta, where Mike is both underground royalty and an entrepreneur with his own Barber Shop. Fittingly, he’s the city’s iteration of Ice Cube, universally respected and highly opinionated; the bridge spanning The Dungeon Family, Grand Hustle, and his own Grind Time Records. R.A.P. Music is a collision of north and south so savage that it could create a subduction zone.

“Scarface and Ice Cube are two of my favorite MCs and both made pilgrimages of a sort to New York,” Mike explains, back in his native Atlanta, which he left for a month to record in Brooklyn. “There’s a certain drive in soaking up the energy in the mecca of rap music, and working with El-P brought it out even more. It’s refreshing to find someone as cynical and paranoid as me.”

Like P.E., Cube, and Scarface, Mike possesses the rare ability to make music that’s smart, tough, and fearless. He is ferocious and honest. As he declares on the album’s first track, “we’re the readers of the books and the leaders of the crooks.”

The record’s genesis stems from a dialogue that Mike and Jason DeMarco at Adult Swim’s Williams Street Records began three years ago. United by a love of old school originality and new school ideas, the explicit goal was to create Mike’s own AmeriKKKA’s Most Wanted, Cube’s debut album after splitting with N.W.A., and no modern producer has done a more artful job of distilling the nitro-glycerine that the Bomb Squad had circa ’88.

Nearly a decade deep in the rap game, Mike has released five critically hailed records and won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group with Outkast for the song “The Whole World.” But, in no uncertain terms, Mike will tell you that R.A.P. Music is his finest accomplishment. He’ll even call it a “classic.” Of course, every rapper calls every one of their albums a classic. The only difference is that Mike’s right.

“Until now, I’ve never really found the Killer Mike sound,” Mike admits. “But this time, I didn’t have to write a single rap. When the beats came on, I’d just start rapping. It was like I cut my wrist and the words just bled out. The chemistry was special.”

Not only does R.A.P. Music stand on its own as a stark document of the socio-economic discrepancies and racism that still plague America in 2011, it creates a kinetic soundtrack for our ever-present paranoia, fear, and loathing. The acronym in the title stands for “Rebellious African People’s Music” and it operates as a catchall container for Mike’s rage at everything from corporate chicanery to the fallout from the Reagan era. Although titled “R.A.P.,” it takes its influence from all genres that Blacks have rebelled through be it Gospel, Jazz, Soul, Rock or Funk. The title track expresses this fittingly.

“Rap was a vestige for black boys to learn the lessons that they’ve been robbed of because so many men were taken out of the community,” Mike thunders. “I make edutainment. I refuse to make any music that degrades me as a man. Rap made me study. Rap made me smarter. Rap made me harder.”

Even if you’re apolitical, R.A.P. Music operates flawlessly on that most basic rap level; it bangs hard out of any boom box, car stereo, or MP3 player. But if you think the modern rap world suffers because it spends too much time as the aural equivalent of Fox News, you’ll love R.A.P. Music. It’s the sound of a man stealing the remote control, kicking the TV down, and saying “Get up, go the f* outside and see the world for real!”

Fishhawk is an Atlanta based alternative electro soul band consisting of producer and multi instrumentalist Andy Slagle and lead vocalist and wordsmith Nick Nickerson accompanied live by Stephanie Grant (Keys/Backing Vocals), James Brasswood (Bass) and Jonathan Bragg (Drums). Infectious melodies and textures from guitars, keyboards, pedals and voices soar overhead, coloring the energetic rhythms that keep you moving all while being entranced by the soulful and poetic lyrics that seem to be channeled by your own subconscious. Fishhawk has released two LP’s “Fishhawk” and, “Bells Underwater”, as well as a Sci-Fi concept EP “Spacehawk” all three available on iTunes. Now with a third LP titled “Bee” to be released in April and an opening slot on the “Shoes For Running Tour” with Big Boi of Outkast and Killer Mike, Fishhawk will prove that it can’t help but consistently reinvent it’s sound while staying true to it’s roots.