The highly anticipated ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty’ does not disappoint. An understatement. Big Boi’s new album is impressive, masterful and rare. The introduction song ‘Feel Me’ heralds the album. ‘Feel Me’ is not a demand but an invitation – an acknowledgement to those fans from 15 years in the game who feel him when he says this album is the pinnacle of his technique.
Sir Lucious Left Foot is a long time moniker for Big Boi. He describes this persona as a development of maturity. As he told Village Voice last week. ‘I’m really serious about my craft - I’ve mastered it, and I’m very skilled at it, and I take pride in making this music’.
And that he should.
Though Big Boi has always been indisputably respected as an excellent MC, the more flamboyant antics of Andre 3000 meant he has been slightly overshadowed in the past. This is no longer the case – Big Boi has officially stepped out from the guise of Outkast. Contractual issues with former label Jive Records meant that Andre 3000 was restricted in even making a guest appearance on the album. Though this sadly explains the absence of the 2007 advance single ‘Royal Flush’, Big Boi’s solo efforts have been welcomed with open arms.
In a sense this album is slightly outdated. Not surprising considering that ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot’ has experienced release-date delays for the past two years. As he told MTV news, “It’s basically the same album. I could have been done, like, a year ago”. Creative differences with Jive however led to lengthy delays and Big Boi finally moving to Def Jam Music Group. It is hence a mark of the progressiveness of Big Boi’s music that his album has received such a receptive response.
Many of the songs are a collaborative affair with guest artists including established rappers such as T.I and B.o.B, the alternative songstress Janelle Monae and Big Boi’s own group Vonnegutt. However it is the presence of Big Boi which pervades the entire album. There is an urgency to what he is saying and a defiance in what he has created.
The time that was taken to create ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot’ shows. It is evident that Big Boi has fine-tuned every one of his songs. There is no sense of carelessness – no let down pieces. That isn’t to say everything is easily accessible. Even in loud conventional club songs such as ‘Shutterbug’, there is a sense of unpredictability.
Big Boi has mastered a range of genres roaming between varieties of funk, dubstep, and rock. Tracks such as ‘General Patton’ and ‘Turns Me On’ are dense, with layers of backing vocals, jocular beats and constantly evolving melodic motifs – a contrast of hip-hop, classic dirty south, opera and soul. ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot’ is both vigorous and protracted - there are a huge variety of musical elements showcased in the album’s 57 minutes. You have the smoothness of Jamie Foxx in ‘Hustle Blood’ to the mutter of talkboxes to the amplified whistling of ‘Feel Me’. The whole affair is slick with no room for mistakes. And Big Boi’s confidence is catching.
Big Boi started ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot’ on the third Monday of January – a day recognised as Martin Luther King Jr. day. For his past three records which include both 'Stankonia' and 'Speakerboxxx’, Big Boi has always started his recording on this particular date. ‘Speakerboxxx’ was Big Boi’s first attempt at an independent album though it was released in conjunction with Andre 3000’s ‘Love Below’ in 2003.
‘Sir Lucious Left Foot’ debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold over 60,000 copies in its first week. Highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike, it looks like Big Boi is no longer an Outkast. He is a solo performer - and a very promising one at that. Follow-up album ‘Daddy Fat Sax: Soul Funk Crusader’ is expected for a late 2011release but for now we have plenty to be occupied with from ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty’. We’re feeling you Big Boi.