Big Boi unfazed by Grammy snub, ready to deliver more solo hits [Video]
Though it’s been more than four years since OutKast, the platinum-selling, Grammy-winning group he co-founded with Andre "Andre 3000" Benjamin, released an album -- despite more than a few promises to fans -- he’s remained a presence offering little gems here and there.
But the Atlanta native made the wait worth it when he released his well-received solo debut, “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty,” in July.
When label drama prevented him from putting the disc out on Jive, the home of OutKast, he coolly took the project to Def Jam Recordings without getting all Kanye with the brass at Jive. He even inked a three-album deal with Def Jam.
Upon its release, the record was critically hailed and was one of the year's top-rated albums, according to Metacritic (Times pop critic Ann Powers gave the “pleasure cruise of an album” three-and-a-half out of four stars). The disc made it on numerous music writers’ top 10 lists (including this Times writer) and was widely believed to be a shoe-in for a Grammy for rap album and shortlisted for album of the year.
But when the nominations were announced, Patton was largely ignored -- save for a nod for “Shutterbug” for rap performance by a duo or group, which he lost to the Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz hard-hitting hit “On To the Next One” at Sunday’s awards. Instead of blasting the Recording Academy -- he even spoke to the Los Angeles chapter about crafting the album -- like some of his outspoken peers would have, he forged ahead with album promos and small club tours.
Pop & Hiss caught up with the rapper -- who was in town for Grammy week to headline a concert with friend and fellow nominee Cee Lo Green at Club Nokia. We chatted about the Grammys, label struggles and of course the (eagerly anticipated) return of Outkast.
Um, not really. That’s how the game goes sometimes. As long as the fans dig it, and the critics love it, that’s what it’s all about. I make it for the people. It’s not really about the trophies all the time. It’s cool, they recognized “Shutterbug” and I got two nominations with Janelle Monáe. It doesn’t bother me. Would I have wanted it to be nominated? Yes. Do people think I got snubbed? Yes. But that’s not what we build around.
You’ve been vocal about your struggles with Jive, but it’s never been as aggressive as some other rappers. Are you happy with the outcome, or do you think you could have handled the project independently?
Yeah, I’m definitely happy. I got a chance to be reunited with L.A. Reid and he understands the music and let me keep my creative process where I’ve always kept it, which is above and beyond the call of duty. For me to be able to have the full support of the label, that’s what meant the most.
You are headed on tour with Cee Lo Green [the show was supposed to be billed as The Georgia Power Tour, a shout-out to the utility company headquartered in their home city of Atlanta, but the power company sent the rappers a cease-and-desist letter]. What can fans expect from two powerhouses on one stage when the show comes to their town?
[The tour is] great. We are all first-generation Dungeon Family [OutKast, along with production team Organized Noise, Cee-Lo and the rest of Goodie Mob, formed the collective known as the Dungeon Family -- a nod to the basement studio where they did their early recordings], that’s my brother. We are ready to tear up these stages. As soon as I can get all the paperwork together, we’ll be out there. It’ll be high energy. The full band is back; we are going to kill it.
How do you balance the solo stuff with OutKast? Is that what’s keeping you guys from finally putting out a project?
While Dre’s working on his album, I’ll be promoting this on tour. I’ll be home soon to kick off the Son Of Chico Dusty World Tour [after touring with Cee Lo]. I’m working on [my] new album right now, the “Daddy Fat Sacks” album. It’s all about keeping music in the pipeline and keeping those hits going.
When artists tour behind solo projects, they sometimes struggle finding that balance between performing solo material and giving purists their fix. Have you figured out what works best for you?
I do all of it. At first I was doing 60-40; 60% OutKast –- hits, hits, hits –- and 40% my stuff. Now it’s like 60-40 the other way around. Fans wanted to hear more stuff off the new album. It’s a good mix -- when you got a catalog that stretches the way we do, that whole hour-and-change goes by. I call it time traveling. I go from “Bombs Over Baghdad” and “GhettoMusick” to “Shine Blockas,” “Tangerine" and “You Ain’t No DJ.”
When can fans expect "Daddy Fat Sacks: Soul Funk Crusader," the follow-up to "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty"?
I’m probably going to get it out toward the end of the year, single out in the summer. I’m 5 or 6 songs into it right now. Just steadily working it.
And finally the OutKast project after that, right?
Something like that.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Video: Big Boi tears up Club Nokia during Grammy weekend
Grammy week was jam-packed with events and Pop & Hiss tried to hit as many as possible. For those who missed Big Boi and Cee Lo Green's co-headlining tour when it rolled through Club Nokia on Friday, check out a special clip of all the action below. Backed by an eight-piece band, a DJ and some swaggerific background dancers, Big Boi delivered hit after hit. Don't worry, we cleaned up the swear words, so feel free to blast at your desk.
Photo credit: Big Boi photo courtesy of Def Jam Records.
Video credit: Gerrick D. Kennedy / Los Angeles Times.