Written By: Brandon Basile
If this is your first Big Boi album that you’ve ever listened to then you are what’s wrong with Hip-Hop. Since Outkast’s last studio album as a duo Idlewild, or its predecessor Speakerboxxx/The Love Below depending on technicalities, Big Boi has consistently kept work flowing forward. Most rap heads still have Big’s other half from Outkast, Andre 3000, in their top 5 greatest rappers alive, but to this day Andre 3000 still does not have a solo album project whereas this is Big Boi’s third solo album, not to mention his Purple Ribbon-All Stars collection, his recent collaboration EP with the electronic indie duo Phantogram on their project entitled Big Grams, and the many artists such as heavyweights Janelle Monae and Killer Mike to our upper echelon of fame. With Big Boi’s latest album Boomiverse continues to bring his usual gold standard quality of the Southernplayalistic flavor that you would expect from his ATLien and Dungeon Family heritage. If you’re still sleeping on Big Boi please stop. It is bad for your health and likely the reason why you’re always calling out of work.
Big Boi really is in his own lane. This album shows that through all of the years he has not missed a beat with his raps and production selection. Boomiverse has a lot of features, but it is an all-star cast of his long time collaborators, such as Killer Mike, Scar, Gucci Mane, Pimp C, and Kurupt, that help show off the vibe and brand that Big Boi has always carried. Even the feature by Adam Levine of Maroon 5 isn’t their first time making music together. There is no dick riding of new school artists and definitely no mumble rap. One thing that is cool about Big Boi is that he doesn’t lean on the new school rappers but on the Killer Mike and Jeezy assisted “Kill Jill” he and Killer Mike have a moment where they pay homage to the Migos’ style new school trap rap flow, but just briefly. It even feels expected and respected because the Migos definitely have a southern rap Atlanta vibe so it is really dope that he would show respect to them.
Lyrically Big’s swag and wittiness is still very apparent. He is still bringing the southern cadillac pimptastic flavor that you would expect given his 70s and 80s funk influenced heritage. The production features witty use of vocal ad-libs as well as intricate horns and jazzy bass and guitar syncopation amidst bass booming hip-hop beats. His cleverness at song concepts definitely shines through on songs like “Order of Operations” and “Freakonomics”, both of which are sexy and fun songs without being negative to women. He even has a moment where he speaks on the fact that he still writes his rhymes on paper and outright says that he doesn’t write on a phone. Paying homage to the craft of writing and its importance is a very sought after quality in today’s modern music market where people are more focused on making something for easy consumption. The quality of Big’s writing is even apparent when he raps alongside a veteran such as Snoop who has been freestyling on many of his recent rap verses.
Big Boi has outworked Andre 3000 through the years, but even on this album as a long-time Outkast fan Andre’s vibe is still missed. Andre has been absent from even featuring on any of Big Boi’s solo albums for whatever reasons. We know that they are two separate artists and though they have many times given statements that there is no beef between the two of them at this point a true fan like myself is really wondering what is going on between the two of them. Big Boi has always seemed like the more comical between the duo whereas Andre was the more calm, eccentric, and deep. This album is dope by all means but it would have been nice to hear Andre bring his grounding effect to the experience at least for one song for old times sakes.
Big Boi has been a pioneer lyricist and highly effective flavor maker in the hip-hop game since the 90s. His career has truly been a good example of how to age in the music business possibly even more so than the likes of Jay-Z. Big Boi’s Boomiverse delivers the high quality dungeon family funk that we’ve come to know and love from the Outkast ATLien and is definitely worth the listen. Would “Chocolate” really work as a song for a stripper named “Chocolate” to collect tips to? At the very least it would be a unique groove that would win pocket folds off respect to the lineage alone. Somebody tell Daddy Fatsacks we are still #Outchea putting on for the real.