December 11, 2010

Reader Review: Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty (July 5, 2010)

(Before the end of the year, I'm going to run Reader Reviews that touch on two albums that rank among, in my opinion, the most important of 2010. Sorry, KiD CuDi, but I'm still not fucking with you musically: better luck next year. Anyway, first up is Rex with his take on Big Boi's solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty. I know you two have been waiting for me to tackle this one, so hopefully this will quench a little bit of that thirst. Leave some comments for Rex below.)

I'm not going to dwell that much on the backstory of OutKast, since most of you two should be already familiar with their musical output, Andre 3000's metamorphosis from a rapper into a singer/songwriter/musician, Big Boi's foray into acting, the duo's hiatus (which is still technically going on today), and Big Boi's struggle to release his debut solo album. Any one of those tales would reveal a rich, multi-layered history befitting one of the greatest groups in music history, not just hip hop. Today, I'll just briefly touch on the last bullet point.

On July 5th, 2010, Big Boi finally released his proper solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, on Def Jam Records. Awful title aside, this was a great day for hip hop. As one half of OutKast, Big Boi had already endeared himself to rap and pop audiences alike, releasing five highly acclaimed projects and one (entirely forgettable) soundtrack to their film Idlewild. This release was especially victorious for Big Boi, since Jive Records was doing everything in their power to block its release, or at least make it sound much less appealing.
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty was stuck in label purgatory for the better part of three years because Jive Records (OutKast's label home) believed the album wouldn't sell. As the story goes, Big Boi met with LA Reid, the former head of LaFace Records who originally signed OutKast in the first place, and played "Fo Yo Sorrows”, a song that featured Too $hort and George Clinton. Reid was impressed with the song and was surprised that Jive refused to release the album. Two months later, Reid signed Big Boi to Def Jam Records and gave his project a release date.

Unfortunately, OutKast, as a group, was still signed to Jive Records. Acting out of spite, Jive refused to clear any vocal appearances from Big Boi's partner Andre 3000. During interviews, Big Boi, a master of knowing what people want to hear, had stated that 3 Stacks would appear on three of the songs from Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, one of which (“Royal Flush”) had already been released (and nominated for a fucking Grammy. No, I'm not joking). After the Def Jam/Jive dispute, Big Boi famously stated (during an interview with GQ) that one of the remaining two joint ventures would end up on a future OutKast project, while the other, “Lookin' For You”, would probably “mysteriously” leak to the Interweb because “I'm no stranger to that Internet, baby. So you already know what time it is. The thirst of the fans will be quenched”. Sure enough, the track hit hip hop blogs soon after that thinly-veiled threat.

So without further ado, the review. Will the album live up to their classic material, or will it prove that Big Boi is lost without his more flamboyant partner in rhyme?

A mostly instrumental intro (albeit a great one) with some crooning courtesy of somebody using what I suspect is a talkbox. Short and sweet.

The stuttering horns and fast-paced drums (provided by Mr. DJ) aid Big Boi with his reintroduction to the general public as his Daddy Fat Stax persona. This was pretty great all around, especially the sampled chorus and Big Boi's lyrics.

Frequent OutKast producers Organized Noize turn in a good, mellow beat, but it fails to maintain the high-octane momentum from the previous song. So this was just a case of bad sequencing. The chorus is standard Sleepy Brown: possibly because of that, Big Boi sounds more than a bit bored on here. This was underwhelming.

Salaam Remi, frequent producer for Nas and the Fugees, uses keys, horns and drums to stir the pot, causing a lot of commotion. Big Boi sounds like he is reading his lyrics off of a sheet of paper, but he is more than serviceable on here. Vonnegutt, a rock group signed to our host's Purple Ribbon label, sucks horribly, though. A mixed bag here.

In my opinion, Scott Storch, a producer who is best known for his work with Dr. Dre and The Roots but also handled the beat on here, is highly overrated. He's made some nice beats over the years, but he's nowhere near what you would consider a “hitmaker”. This particular beat is the tits, though. Big Boi sounds rejuvenated, the hook is pretty nice, and even the talkbox, which makes a comeback on here, comes off as alright. A definite highlight of the album.

A straight-up hip hop track. You'll understand what I mean when you hear it. This track contains some straight heat from Jbeatzz (yeah, I never heard of him before today, either) using opera crooning, triumphant horns and some hard-hitting drums. Appropriately, Big Boi uses the song to simply talk some shit, and he sounds great doing it, turning in his best performance since Stankonia. There's a great reference to Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby in here, too.

This isn't much more than a song custom-built for women to strip to, but it is one of the best in its category that I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. The instrumental, great all by itself, switches to something even better during the hook, and both T.I. and Billy Ocean (one of Big Boi's goofier self-imposed nicknames) make good use of it. Also, Khujo Goodie spits a few bars and received a paycheck. It's a good thing he was able to still reach Big Boi by phone: every single former Goodie Mob member absolutely needs Cee-Lo to come back to them, or else they're all going to have to seek regular employment very soon.

Yes, Andre “3 Stacks” 3000 did actually produce this beat, but that's the extent of his contribution to Big Boi's album, thanks to Jive's legal restrictions. He does an admirable job, supplying a nice instrumental that he would have killed in an alternate universe. Big Boi sounds pretty good, but underground favorite Yelawolf shits all over this song, and not in a good way. He sounds awful. I have no clue what our host was thinking when he allowed Wolf to spit two verses, both of which are longer than his own bars. Raekwon would have sounded amazing over this beat. Oh well.

This is quite possibly the greatest Lil' Jon beat ever made. This is also perhaps the greatest Jamie Foxx guest appearance he's done. Neither of those is that great of a compliment, but the fact that I've written both regarding a single song means that Big Boi is the man. He knows how to elevate the abilities of his invited guests and producers: this trait, that of a born leader, has been evident, more or less, throughout the entire project thus far. Sure, that didn't prevent Yelawolf or Vonnegutt from sucking, but you can't have it all. “Hustle Blood” is the best song on Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, thanks to its amazing beat and a cameo from Jamie Foxx that enhances our host's story. It's possible that Big Boi may release a solo greatest hits album in the future: this track is a lock for inclusion.

I somehow really doubt that this song was produced by the same Royal Flush who released Ghetto Millionaire back in the day. Anyway, the song is amazing. Janelle Monae, who released a fantastic album of her own, The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III), earlier this year, comes through with the assist, which makes sense, as Big Boi plays a large role in her career (he was an executive producer on said album, and also appeared alongside her on “Tightrope”). Not only does she sing the hook, she also gets her own verse, and she sounds incredible, as her soulful voice transcends everything presented to the listener. For his part, Big Boi only gets to do a single verse, but it is as essential as everything else on here.

Since this is best known as the song that saved the entire project, it's appropriate that it is yet another highlight on here. The Organized Noize beat sounds calm and smoky, making for a nice contrast with our host's speedy and assured delivery. Too $hort pops up for, like, four bars, but he leaves a good impression behind, and George Clinton's partial hook and ad-libs mesh together in a terrific way. A real gem.

Some great horns and rushing drums add to a beat which could accompany a chase sequence in your nightmares. B.o.B (a sure contender for hip hop rookie of the year) does well enough on the hook, but I think I would have liked this more if he had the opportunity to spit a verse. Oh well. Big Boi sounds impressive, as usual.

The two rappers ride this feel-good beat beautifully. For those of you two who are afraid of any song featuring Gucci Mane, you should know that not only does he do okay for himself, he actually complements our host very well. While Big Boi spits quickly and always sounds serious and on point, Gucci sounds like he is just playing around, and his lazy drawl fits the track perfectly: they basically act as foils for one another. This was an inspired choice for a guest star, one that perhaps was difficult to approve due to the possible backlash he might have received from his fans. A great song. (Um, OutKast isn't opposed to working alongside artists that some would consider less than stellar. What about Mystikal, Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boyz, Lil' Wayne, Gangsta Boo, DJ Unk, Fonzworth Bentley, Lloyd, Chris Brown, Gwen Stefani...)

This is a sequel to a ytrack that originally appeared on the rather forgettable Idlewild soundtrack. It sounds just as middling as its predecessor. It's almost as though Big Boi tacked this track onto the album just to fill some of the empty space that Jive Records created by siccing their lawyers on Def Jam. Skip.

This finale was also fairly forgettable but not to a similar extent as the previous song. Somebody might find something to like about this track, but I'm not that guy. This wasn't the best way to end the project.

The deluxe edition of Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty features two additional tracks and a bonus DVD that contains all of the music videos Big Boi shot to promote the album's release.

There is a reason why this was tacked on as a bonus cut. My comments from the last two tracks are very very applicable to this track.

Uses the same exact beat as the original, but this time around, Bun B lends a great verse and Project Pat manages to not embarrass himself. For those of you two that absolutely cannot listen to anything featuring Gucci Mane, this track serves as a compromise: his verse has been deleted in order to make room for the other guests. That was awfully nice of Big Boi.

Just for kicks, I'll also tackle four tracks recorded during the sessions for what turned into Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, none of which made the final cut for various reasons.

This song should probably remain a leak and nothing more, but I'm sure that somebody out there can find something to enjoy about it. I didn't outright hate it, but I won't go out of my way to recommend it to anybody, either.

This song, on the other hand, was pretty great. Over an interesting beat, Big Boi twists up some inspired lyrics to discuss the ills of the world around us. This track also features vocals from Mary J. Blige, which would have made her the guest with the highest profile on the entire project. Big Boi even managed to shoot a video for it. So it's pretty obvious that Jive Records had something to do with this track not making the final cut.

As I mentioned above, this was one of the three Andre 3000-featured songs recorded for the album, and it is simply amazing. You should absolutely hunt this track down as soon as possible: it's readily available, since Big Boi leaked it himself. This track embodies everything fans have ever loved about OutKast, and Boi-1da's instrumental sounds like it could have been a leftover from the Aquemini sessions. I have to give the man his props.

This shit knocks. This (Grammy-nominated) collaboration features a great verse from Raekwon and one of the best performances from Andre 3000 ever recorded. Big Boi even steps up his game in an effort to keep up. Sadly, Rae and Billy Ocean get left in Andre's dust. This would have easily been the best song on Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, and it's a shame that label politics have prevented it from ever being included in its rightful place. A word to the wise: you have to look this song up. It can be purchased just about anywhere (since it was officially released by Jive), and, hint hint, it can be found elsewhere, too.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Despite the fact that Jive followed industry rule #4080 to a tee, blocking our host from utilizing three tools that would have made Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty a certified classic record, Big Boi still created a great album chock full of what made OutKast great to begin with, while also successfully continuing to establish the solo persona that he introduced on Speakerboxxx (which could be seen as his actual solo debut. I'm just saying). While he does make a few missteps along the way, Big Boi avoided selling out or taking the Andre Benjamin singer-songwriter route (not that there's anything wrong with that), choosing to stick with what he knew best: pimp talk over hard, funky beats. And his fans will love him more for that. I know I will.

BUY OR BURN? I seriously recommend you give up your hard-earned cash for the regular edition of the album, and if you really can't stand Gucci Mane, just but “Shine Blockas (Remix)” off of iTunes or somewhere. Then you should most definitely hunt down the three “unreleased” joints that are listed below. You will not be disappointed.

BEST TRACKS: “Daddy Fat Sax”; “Shutterbug”; “General Patton”; “Tangerine”; “Hustle Blood”; “Be Still”; “Fo Yo Sorrows”; “Night Night”; “Shine Blockas” (both the original and the remix); and for good measure, “Lookin for Ya”; “Royal Flush”; “Sumthin's Gotta Give”

SIDE NOTE: If you use all twelve tracks I listed above and tack on the rap album intro, my hypothetical version of Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty would have clocked in at a tight forty-six minutes and thirty seconds. This could have made Big Boi's solo debut one of the most cohesive musical packages of our time. Sadly, this can only be a reality on your respective iTunes playlists.


(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave your thoughts below, as always.)


  1. I'm really glad someone was able to get to this.

    Great album, and I agree with the overall consensus here. Also, a tidbit of information: Lookin 4 Ya has a "Jedi Remix" out there that Big Boi released with one more verse from himself and Andre. People should definitely look into it.

    How this didn't get a Grammy Nomination would be beyond me if I wasn't aware of how fucked up the Grammy process was.

  2. This album was ok IMO nothing more.

    If you consider this album to be a classic then I guess you never listened to a real classic album like Moment of Truth by Gang Starr for example.

  3. Album of the fucking YEAR for me. This is so fun to listen to, yet one can see the effort and talent put into it. Big Boi did it right. I'm a bit disappointed that "Turns Me On" and "Backup Plan" got some hate, as they rank among some of my absolute favorites on the album. Then again... My only complaints on the album are "Hustle Blood" (wtf?) and "You Ain't No DJ" (due to the horrendous guest verses). Faaaantastic fucking album, and honest review, though I didn't agree completely.

    As for FATPimp... This album will go down as classic to me. Moment of Truth has nothing to do with this review. It isn't even Gang Starr's best album. Pretty random, unnecessary comment.

    - Keeshawn

  4. This is one of those polarizing albums.

    In the main I disagreed with a lot of this review...and I loathed the beat to that Yelawolf track. Waaayyy too ADHD and shallow for my tastes.

  5. Like the other Anonymous, I loved Back Up Plan (god yes) and Turns Me On.

    Definitely am not a fan of You Ain't No DJ simply because of the beat. Yelawolf was okay for me, but that deal.

    But yeah, awesome album. Definitely my Album of the Year. Would have gotten so much more love and praise is 3000 had his three guest spots.

  6. ^^Pretty much everyone I've heard has loved, or at least really liked the I can't agree with 'polarizing'.

    Most enjoyable album of the year probably.

  7. Well you have a core of people who love it.

    And a wider pool of people who couldn't give less of a shit.

    So it's kind of a mixed bag.

  8. @ A.R. Marks: doesn't that describe any album, hit or otherwise?

  9. I loved it. Should be nominated for a Grammy, not that any shit like that matters anymore.

  10. Rex,this was better than The War Report 2 Review. I liked this Album. Well done, Rex.

  11. The reason i pointed out that fans might be apprehensive with gucci being on this album despite the fact that big boi and dre have appeared with Mystikal, Lil' Jon and the Eastside Boyz, Lil' Wayne, Gangsta Boo, DJ Unk, Fonzworth Bentley, Lloyd, Chris Brown, Gwen Stefani and whoever else is because they never appeared with them on their own album

  12. this album is dope as fuck and turns me on is one of the best songs but its lowest point is definitely when stupid fucking yelawolf starts rapping. jesus christ man..