Epic Records

There are plenty of conversations that debate whether or not Andre 3000 is one of the greatest of all time, which is a valid deliberation to have, however, it oddly discredits the work, impact and skill level that Big Boi has had over his illustrious career. As great as Three Stacks is, it’s actually Big who continues to carry on the legacy laid down by OutKast and admirably stays flying the Atlanta lyricist flag in an era of mumble rap repetition.

The instinctive balance he applies to his music straddles the fine line between cunning wordsmith and strategic songwriter, both of which have appeared while alone and as part of that iconic pair. It’s a skill that is incredibly unique to Big and since OutKast’s musical disbandment; it has been taken horrendously for granted. But Mr. Patton is now on his third solo album (four if you count the Phantogram collaborative album, Big Grams) and realistically has nothing left to prove to anyone yet on Boomiverse he sounds as hungry as he did back in the day when he was rocking shoulder-length braids and all-white velour tracksuits.

Although this album is considered a solo album, Big brings along a slew of different friends and flavors with him in attempts to create his own booming universe. In many instances, it sounds like you are listening to a playlist of Big’s favorite music, just with his own verses spread throughout. The song that sets the tone is “Kill Jill” with fellow ATLiens Jeezy and Killer Mike. In a bold attempt to rhyme better than each other, the trio pulls off one of the best songs on the album with their southern quip and unapologetic bluster. Big Boi even drops an incredibly nostalgic reference to Andre 3000's 1995 Source Awards speech: “Got that Southern drawl and all that/My pre-rolls look like ball-bats/The South got somethin' to say/And all y'all niggas can't get y'all ball back.”

From there, the attitude shifts almost drastically to an old school funk vibe with none other than Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. To describe the song as catchy is a criminal understatement, plus Big Boi brings sharp bars and refined vocals that harmonize nicely with Levine’s angelic a cappella. Then just as you think Big Boi has gone all the way funky fresh, he brings it back down south for “In the South” with Gucci Mane, Pimp C and Bun B. TM88 and Organized Noize recreate that traditional slab sound and all four spitters drop their bars across its mellow baseline and wah-wah guitar slides; talk about a true southern slang.

So in the matter of three songs, Big Boi has showed us two very different sides of himself,  which proves how much he has evolved since his early rap roots as well as how much he appreciates where he came from. For those looking for that enlightened Big Boi sound, “Oder of Operations” is the classic coming of age rap story jam-packed with lines about the trials and tribulations of getting too rich, too fast, too young. Big Boi has always rapped beyond his years but this track really certifies his OG status even among hip-hop’s elder statesmen.

By this point on the album, Big Boi has more than proven he can rap anywhere and anyway he wants so he defaults to what he is most comfortable with right now; good time rap rhymes. “All Night,” “Get Wit It,” “Overthunk” and “Chocolate” are all prime examples of Big Boi letting his proverbial hair down and just having fun with things. Especially the latter, which is produced by electro-inspired Jake Troth and carries a very deep house vibe, similar to something you would hear in Ibiza’s sweatiest dance party. Hearing him rhyme over such an nontraditional beat is appreciated even if its replay value isn’t anywhere close to the rest of the album. He ends the album with another pair of Killer Mike features with some Currensy and Kurupt mixed in there as well, all of which are well-received and fit the theme of each song respectively.

While it would have been nice to hear a few more completely solo Big Boi cuts on Boomiverse, it’s becoming more and more apparent that he raps between when among friends, or more specifically, healthy competition. Surrounding himself with such a widespread range of musical counterparts allows him to channel his inner creative now more than ever. On past projects he has been comfortable sticking to a script he’s outlined for himself but here, he operates without rules. He isn’t bound by tempo, theme, style or even genre for that matter. All that appears to matter to Big Boi on Boomiverse is making good music that players can still bump in their Cadillacs.

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