Listen up, guys. Not sure if you knew this, but, this time of year is rough for music enthusiasts. The recorod-coming-out flow just kind of stalls at the end of December and beginning of January. Music websites just beat the Year End Lists thing to death. That’s why I posted a re-considered Top 10 Albums of 2012 list in my On The Record column this week. AND, next week, in the same space, you can expect a ranked list of my Top 10 Anticipated Albums of January 2013. There are some hum-dingers. But we have to wait until weeks 3 and 4 to really get 2013 cookin’ with gas. Trust. It’s bleak until then.
Not sure how y’all feel about Chief Keef and T.I., but, well they’re the only records out that’re new and worthy of consideration. They’re both just aiiiiight. In fact, when you throw Trinidad James into the picture, hip-hop feels like it’s falling by the wayside sometimes lately. But au contraire, Big Boi (aka Sir Lucious Left Foot or Daddy Fat Sax) is here to give the hip-hop landscape a little more depth and color.
See, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors was one of my most-anticipated releases of the last quarter of 2012. Upon first listen, and I think I’m not alone on this, it wasn’t a resoundingly brilliant listen. However, since there’s been such a dearth of new and exciting releases lately, VL & DR has been in constant, daily rotation on my Spotify app. (If you’re a Spotify devotee like myself, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not listening to this LP on the regular.)
One of the many things I like about Big Boi is his willingness to experiment, wander away from where he’s been and what he’s perfected, and allow his music to be influenced and affected by the indie rock trends (Little Dragon and Phantogram) and hip-hop youngbloods (A$AP Rocky and Kid Cudi) that float around in his orbit. This record doesn’t sound like the bazillions of Maybach releases or G.O.O.D. music manifestations. And really, those two camps are two of the most commercially and culturally successful titans of current hip-hop.
This record gets better with more spins and is one of those rare albums that you find more in with each listen, as well as an experience that can be enjoyed from beginning to end. He and his producers use a GENIUS mix of skits, interludes and clips that are straight-up comedy – each time yielding giggles and belly laughs alike. There are hard tracks (”Thickets,” “In The A,” “Thom Pettie”), tracks that swerve into pop (”Apple of My Eye,” “CPU” and “She Hates Me), and tracks that tastefully and sparingly employ the talents of guests.
See, one thing I really hate is the ubiquitous and constant application of hip-hop artists inviting guests on EVERY SINGLE TRACK ON THEIR RECORD. This could account for the overexposure of 2 Chainz and Drake. And while there IS a guest on nearly every track on this one, he uses a few guests repeatedly and you can feel their subtle touches throughout the record without feeling like they take over the track. As in the way “Thom Pettie” sickeningly uses Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano’s delicate, signature coo for a pseudo-chorus/refrain.
And while it was disappointing to hear about the controversy surrounding the bangin’ single, “Mama Told Me,” Kelly Rowland’s voice is not unwelcome and it’s a track that convincingly pulls an unsold listener into Big Boi’s compellingly-developing solo career.