May 22, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors (December 11, 2012)

Today’s Gut Reaction isn’t one from my unpublished archives (read: the scribble I found in a notebook on my desk that was buried underneath a pile of other shit), but it is an album which I have apparently avoided writing about for a reason I felt was valid back in the day, pre-hiatus. So let’s see where this one goes, okay?

Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is the second solo album from rapper-slash-actor-slash-pitbull breeder Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Well, third if you count his half of his former group OutKast’s double album, Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, which you should. It follows his critically-acclaimed Def Jam Records debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, which was his first attempt to peek out from underneath the OutKast umbrella, one which was largely successful, his collaborations with the likes of Gucci Mane, Salaam Remi, Jamie Foxx, Janelle Monae (whom he helped discover), and T.I. seamlessly meshing with those of his Dungeon Family co-conspirators such as Sleepy Brown, Joi, Organized Noize, and, yes, his former partner-in-crime Andre 3000, who offered up an instrumental but found his vocal contribution blocked by his label, effectively terminating OutKast as a rap group once and for all, apparently, as they’ve never even tried to work together since.

Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is a few degrees removed from its predecessor, not because Big Boi abandons hip hop altogether, but he does mine the Indie Dance Pandora station for some inspiration, inviting the likes of Phantogram and Little Dragon into the studio. He also largely abandons the Dungeon Family, only incorporating Sleepy Brown and the production team Organized Noize into the studio sessions, although he remained fairly flexible with rappers outside of his immediate family, and even resuscitates an old friendship by bringing in Killer Mike, who is best known now as one-half of Run The Jewels and as a card-carrying member of the NRA even though the NRA historically hates black people, but that’s not what we’re discussing today.

Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors received a fair amount of critical acclaim from writers who took one glance at the guest list and figured it wouldn’t be kosher for them to say anything negative, lest their readers think of them as not cool or hip to the music of today (well, the music of six years ago, anyway). But aside from one song that received a tiny bit of radio airplay, the project appeared to be dead on arrival, as absolutely nobody ever spoke of it, and it even seemed as though Big Boi himself quickly shifted perspective and moved on to another album, even though I know that isn’t the case. I did skim an online review of Antwan’s third solo effort, Boomiverse, where the author referenced Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors as both a classic and a fucking mess, but unfortunately I can’t remember where I found that, so it’s entirely possible I just made that up in order to set up my own take on the project.

I’ll let you two decide.

Just a rap album intro. Never heard one of these before. The underlying music was very soothing, but who cares, you’ll skip this, and rightfully so.

Quite possibly the most boring opening song on any OutKast or OutKast-adjacent project. I legitimately cannot remember what it was I just listened to, but I’m going to give it the old college try: our host delivers two verses centered around boasts-n-bullshit over an instrumental (provided by Cy Fyre) that is the aural equivalent of watching paint dry, while guest star Sleepy Brown croons a hook, thereby giving “The Thickets” all of the trappings of a “song”, but with none of the appeal. I cannot stress enough how much you don’t want to waste your time with this track. The fact that it comes from one-half of one of the greatest duos in hip hop history will have you questioning how OutKast even got that high up on the list, this was that bad.

This shit ultimately goes nowhere, thanks to Big Boi’s meandering two verses that can’t decide if “Apple Of My Eye” should be a love rap, a cautionary tale, or a bible lesson, but let’s focus on the positive here: Mr. DJ’s The xx -sampling instrumental is pretty catchy, akin to the type of material our host used on his first solo album. Said xx sample (from their “Intro”) not only fits seamlessly into the beat, it also helps push the concept forward of Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors being Big Boi’s way of exposing the listener to the type of music he himself likes to listen to, and I can get behind that mission. The hook, provided by co-producer Jake Troth, also isn’t terrible (I have to say that it reminded me of Double's "The Captain of Her Heart" at times, which is unfortunate), but our host’s lyrics are all over the map, although I will admit they do sound decent at times. Ah well: he has plenty more opportunities on this project to win me over.

Big Boi brings out his favorite band, Phantogram, for the first of several contributions to the evening. Now I quite like Phantogram’s music (even though they’re virtually the exact same band as Sleigh Bells and, to a degree, the late Chairlift, come @ me), but I hated “Objectum Sexuality”: the music seems to be barely there, an afterthought created just so our host could have proof that he got to work with the duo of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter. (Obviously the Big Boi/Phantogram Big Grams EP hadn’t yet been conceived when this project was recorded.) Barthel’s vocals on here are fairly limited, but sounded okay, I guess, but our host does a shitty job trying to convince his fans to also listen to Phantogram, especially with a confusing attempt at a “narrative” where our host may or may not be the objectified sexual being of the title. I found myself not giving a shit, and you’ll probably feel my pain.

Careful not to steer too close to the edge this soon into the project, Big Boi recruits fellow Atlanta residents T.I. and Ludacris (former enemies who have since settled their differences and moved into the film industry – coincidence? Yeah, probably) to add verses to the Showdown, DJ Aries, and BlackOwned C-Bone-produced “In The A”, five minutes of spitting that also wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, which makes sense, as the hook consists of a vocal sample taken from that project’s hit single “Shutterbugg”. T.I. kicks things off with both the opening verse and a great deal of a boring skit that ended “Objectum Sexuality” and set this shit up, while our host handles the midsection. Both sound fine over the beat, but as is his way, Ludacris is the only one who seems to understand how goofy the rap game can be and fully embraces it, turning in the best performance. “In The A” ends with a skit featuring a portion of a service from controversial preacher James David Manning, which was a strange artistic choice, but Big Boi also stands by his former-and-now-current  boss LA Reid, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a former assistant and was actually fired by his previous label because of his behavior, so I don’t necessarily find him to be the best judge of a person’s character.

Our host is aided by Comedy Bang! Bang!’s KiD CuDi, who provides the hook and some general background crooning on “She Hates Me”, Big Boi’s dissection of a relationship that has just ended. As he’s focused on the topic at hand, his verses are pretty well-written, kind of like OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson”, on which at least Andre 3000 mined similar territory. Mescudi seems to be involved merely because Big Boi enjoys his music, which does fit the same general alternative aesthetic that a Phantogram or The xx could find themselves classified under (indeed, I’ve heard CuDi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” at the club a bunch of times, and it works well), but he doesn’t sound bad, even though he doesn’t stuck around long enough for anyone to form an opinion. Not bad, if not especially great.

Phantogram is 0 for 2 with guest appearances on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, although at least they had nothing to do with the song’s production this time around. No, that honor goes to Jeron Ward and Chris Carmouche, and they provide our host with a pulsating instrumental that absolutely clashes with the man’s natural Southern drawl. Weirdly, “CPU” is all about Internet addiction: my guess is that Big Boi wrote it after observing his kids glued to their phone screens. This is the hip hop equivalent of a story on a newsmagazine like 20/20 or what Dateline NBC used to be before they steered into To Catch A Predator and true crime territory. Meh. At least “CPU” would get some burn in a club setting as long as nobody paid attention to any of the lyrics from either Big Boi or Sarah Barthel.

According to an interview, our host evokes the name of the late, great Tom Petty as shorthand for “free falling” (itself a reference to one of Petty’s greatest songs with the Heartbreakers, “Free Fallin’”), which is what he calls letting the night take you where it will. That’s more than a bit of a stretch, and a little bit too much backstory for “Thom Pettie” (who the fuck knows why the name is spelled that way in the title), which ultimately ends up being a boasts-n-bullshit session from Big Boi and guest/friend of the show Killer Mike, along with Swedish alt-indie band Little Dragon, who are submitted as proof that Big Boi has more diverse musical tastes than you do. Mike and Antwan both sounded alright, but both choruses were dumb as hell, and overall that shit just doesn’t work, man.

You may recall Big Boi’s guest feature on Beyoncé’s solo debut Dangerously In Love, so it makes sense that he would… invite Kelly Rowland to pop up on “Mama Told Me”. Complete sense. And my Lord does this song suck. There is an alleged theme (please refer to the song title, and to Rowland’s hook, for more information), but our host doesn’t adhere to it at all, instead choosing to devote his two verses to boasts-n-bullshit, even managing to throw in a reference to both Tom Petty and “Free Fallin’” in an entirely different context than what he presented just one fucking song prior. The Flush’s instrumental is also poppy to a fault, making one wonder just who this track was designed for. Anywho, skip this shit.

The best Phantogram collaboration of the evening also features an A$AP Rocky verse that betrays the obvious Southern rap influence in his flow: at times he actually sounds more like Big Boi than our host. “Lines” is, so fat, the best overall song on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, thanks to a swift verse apiece from Antwan and Rakim, Phantogram’s contribution limited again to a (catchy) hook from Barthel, and a bouncy instrumental handled by production outfit Organized Noize in their only appearance of the project (the standard version, anyway). Rocky and Big Boi don’t say anything that matters, but their respective swagger helps the track succeed: perhaps these two should work together more often. I mean, I would definitely want to hear what Big Boi sounds like over Clams Casino production, anyway.

This one also wasn’t awful. “Shoes For Running” aligns San Diego-based alt-rockers Wavves with Decatur’s own Bobby Ray, the flat-earther who counts Andre 3000 as an influence, and now all I can think about is how this John Hill production could have sounded had Dre deemed it important enough to reunite with his rhyme partner at that very moment. Sigh. The hook is pretty catchy, and the verses from both our host and his invited guest both mesh surprisingly well over the not-Southern-in-the-least instrumental. Huh.

Sounds like Big Boi listened to The Love Below in its entirety and took the wrong lessons away. I, for one, never asked to hear our host sing. Did you?

The two-song decent streak on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors was broken by “Raspberries”, and things don’t improve much on the Chris Carmouche-produced “Tremendous Damage”. (And I mean “decent”, not “great”: you two could choose to never listen to either “Lines” or “Shoes For Running” and lead long and fruitful lives.) The overly-serious tone from Big Boi and guest crooner Bosko would lead one to believe that “Tremendous Damage” was a deeper mediation into the concept of mortality or something, since our host kicks off the second verse by discussing the passing of his father, but Big Boi’s jumbled thoughts don’t convey any sort of overt message. I will say that I appreciate his mission throughout to keep these songs to two verses each (save for “In The A” for obvious reasons). But still.

This companion piece-slash-bookend to “Ascending” runs six times as long as its partner and features Little Dragon again, but otherwise follows the same meandering trails, taking the listener exactly nowhere. With all of the line readings of the phrase, “if you don’t know me by now”, I was really hoping for a segue into the Simply Red song of the same name, but no such luck. The music is okay enough, but that length is inexcusable for what is basically a rap album outro. Bleh.

The deluxe edition of Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors includes the following bonus tracks.

Big Boi keeps Little Dragon around for “Higher Res”, the Jai Paul-produced barely-a-song that was somehow determined to be the perfect gift to give fans who purchased the deluxe edition of a crappy Big Boi solo album. Experimental to a fault, our host barely registers during his brief verse, leaving all of the heavy lifting to his guests, which… well, let’s just say that wasn’t the smartest move.

16. GOSSIP (FEAT. BIG K.R.I.T. & U.G.K.)
The only track on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors that I was familiar with prior to this Gut Reaction post as it was released to radio, likely off the strength of the guest list, which includes a posthumous appearance from UGK’s Pimp C. With production handled by Organized Noize, the stage is set for some quality Southern shit-talking, and the results were… well, less than. “Gossip” is merely okay, with guest Big K.R.I.T. seemingly added to help stretch out the song (he shares a verse with Pimp C, whose contribution is half the length of his living counterparts Big Boi and Bun B), and the only person who seems alert enough to the dangers of gossip is Bun, who closes the track but can’t resist using the phrase “no homo” as though this were a Cam’Ron song from the early part of the millennium. Still, there’s no reason this couldn’t have been swapped out with “In The A” during the regular program, anyway.

Whereas “She Said OK” may be a deluxe edition bonus track because our host was actively trying to hide its existence from the rest of the world. The first words uttered on this track are, “Let me see your titties”, and the song doesn’t get any better from there. Our host couldn’t even convince his friend Sleepy Brown to croon the hook (which contains that dumbass line alongside some much more vulgar horseshit): instead, that task is handed off to something called a Tre Luce. At least the lesson of this song is to seek consent first? Too bad this is a terrible faux-R&B garbage fire. Big Boi thought all of this up, so it’s clearly his fucking fault, but guest rapper Theophilus London deserved better. Groan.

THE LAST WORD: With Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, Big Boi makes a fairly significant artistic leap, but just like a certain well-known cartoon coyote, he fails to hit the mark, falling what should be a brutal death instead, possibly while holding an anvil or an ACME umbrella or something. Which is depressing as shit, because a lot of the chances the man takes on his second solo album are those I would typically champion: he attempts to expand upon his subject matter; he reaches outside of his hip hop bubble for both guest cameos and inspiration, oftentimes with artists I actually like; he does everything he can to make this a Big Boi project and not an OutKast spinoff. I do appreciate his efforts to switch things up, and his attempt to grow his audience while not losing the folks who have followed him since, realistically, Speakerboxxx (the rap nerd in me wants to say Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, but come on, we all know his popularity exploded when the OutKast double-disc won the Album of the Year Grammy). But most of Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors fucking sucks. I counted only maybe two tracks that were in any way engaging: musically, the majority of this project is lethargic at best. And while Big Boi is typically pretty good at inspiring entertaining performances from his collaborators, that… just doesn’t happen here. (His love for Phantogram significantly overshadows his quality control on their three contributions, for example.) This album wouldn’t have sounded better had Andre 3000 offered up a beat or a one-off verse: it would have sunk even with his buoyancy, it’s that bland. Sure, it’s better than Idlewild, but not by much. Those of you two hoping for a hidden gem or an underappreciated banger will walk away from Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors severely disappointed. Sorry bout it.


You can read more on Big Boi, both as a solo artist and as a part of OutKast, by clicking on the links I just gave you. They’re right there. Fuck, man.


  1. AnonymousMay 22, 2018

    Enter your of the best internet blogs keep up the good work Maxx I'm from south Africa but please we need some more post like this but can u please post some chopp & screw shit when Houston was on top ov da game

  2. AnonymousMay 22, 2018

    I loved Sir Luscious Left Foot, and was super excited to listen to this. Checked it out once, maybe twice, and never came back. Such a disappointment

  3. AnonymousMay 23, 2018

    like you say, I think it's really interesting that Big Boi ended up being more creative as a solo artist than Andre. Although Andre hasn't done much solo stuff, if you were to put a bet on one of them doing an album with someone like Phantogram you wouldn't put it on Big Boi. Boomiverse is a lot more conventional hip hop than this I felt, and again updated the sound from indie to dance almost. worth a listen, and good read as always

  4. AnonymousMay 23, 2018

    I still listen to the phantogram and XX songs off this, rest of the disc is pure snooze however

  5. AnonymousMay 23, 2018

    please Max Styles P G Host album or Sean Price Imperial rexx album not this bullshit your album selection lately is below par (big fat wet middle finga)