Music Reviews
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

(Def Jam) Rating - 9/10

The idea of a solo album by one of the members of the funky dynamic duo known as Outkast may have been given a significant heap of credibility once the concept of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was made public seven years ago. That it took this long to become a reality could be seen as a surprise, and that Big Boi – over the arguably more enigmatic and unpredictable counterpart in André 3000 – would be the first of the two to drop a solo debut is even more of a shock.

But here we are, and despite the perception of Big Boi as the more conservative copilot there to make sure Dre’s careening soul plane doesn’t go into a tailspin and crash land into oblivion, we’re given Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. As the name may suggest, it’s a daring, sprawling effort that simultaneously ventures beyond hip-hop and celebrates the genre’s very history.

Admittedly, Sir Lucious is very much a club-ready rap album compared to the Prince-Parliament hybrid one might expect from André 3000. But that doesn’t mean that Big Boi doesn’t find plenty to explore within the confines of neon lights and expensive cognac. The masterful first single, Shutterbugg, fits perfectly in today’s dance clubs and yet manages to recall golden age hip-hop greats like Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. Next song, General Patton, with its exploding-at-the-seams production and battle cry drama, borrows the best elements from Jay-Z’s Black Album. Then there’s the delicious southern simplicity of the Ludacris-like You Ain’t No DJ.

Big Boi dips his production hand into a solid handful of these songs (including the two best, Shutterbugg and General Patton) and his rapping is top-notch. While he wastes far too much time rehashing tired rap topics like sex, blow jobs and sex, he places himself above most commercial rappers with some genuinely succinct observations. On Fo Yo Sorrows, for instants, he laments, “Why are seventy-five percent of our youth readin’ magazines?/’Cause they used to fantasy, and that’s what they do to dream/Call it fiction addiction ‘cause the truth is a heavy thing!

He also manages to balance a surprisingly thin parade of guest rappers with some great performances from R&B sources, like the one-two punch of Jamie Foxx on Hustle Blood and Janelle Monáe (returning the favor for Boi’s guest spot on The ArchAndroid) on the lovely Be Still.

Anyone who was not convinced after Speakerboxxx that Big Boi is himself teeming and bubbling with creativity will be singing a different tune after Sir Lucious. Perhaps, in the end, it was appropriate that Big Boi get his chance first. André 3000 may have more people arguing over what outlandish style he will successfully incorporate into Planet Stankonia when he gets his chance at a solo album, but few can argue that anything Dre releases could be truly as surprising as Big Boi’s effort is here. Is Sir Lucious the equivalent of Aquemini Part II? Not quite. But if it proves one thing, it’s that OutKast is every bit Big Boi as it is André. There is no dead weight on this team – hell, there isn’t the slightest imbalance.