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Interview:
OutKast's Big Boi Brings It Solo
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

When Antwan Andre "Big Boi" Patton takes it to the stage, he promises "a high-powered funk energy extravaganza."

Which, after all, is the story of his life -- or at least his musical career.

Along with Andre "3000" Benjamin, his partner in the Atlanta duo OutKast, Big Boi has spent the past 15-plus years blending rap, R&B, funk, jazz and other styles into their own unique musical stews, both together and apart. It's always been, as Big Boi describes, extravagant, sometimes yielding great commercial success -- six platinum-or-better albums and a half-dozen Grammy Awards -- and occasionally courting controversy, as when the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks sued the duo for using her name as the title of a 1998 hit.

But in any permutation, including outside productions, they've created an arresting, and growing, body of work.

"OutKast is the mothership," the explains the Savannah, Ga.-born Big Boi, 34, who's also known as General Patton, Hot Tub Tony and Daddy Fat Sacks. "What people don't understand is that...we're both producers, writers, singers, MCs, the whole nine yards. We do all aspects of music.

"So if you`ve got two mad scientists working in two different labels, just think about all the different potions you can come up with as opposed to just having one person doing everything. So it's gonna be that much more top-notch when you get it."

And if Big Boi has his way, there will be a lot of music for fans to get in the coming year.

He and Andre 3000 both have solo albums on tap. After that, he says, "we're gonna give them the OutKast album" -- the group's first since 2003's "Speakerboxx/The Love Below," actually a paired set of solo albums, and the soundtrack to the 2006 film "Idlewild."

At the moment, however, Big Boi's focus is primarily on his own effort, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty," which is due out in early 2010. He just turned the finished product into his record company and says it represents "a mature Big Boi...the guy that really traveled the path." But also a guy that still knows how to have a good time.

"Hey, I wouldn't be Big Boi if I didn't," he says with a laugh. "The album definitely is fun and...it's Big Boi to the extreme.

"You kind of want to have fun with the music. You go in and it's a blank canvas. You become who you want to become, let the music take you where you want to go, and at the end of the day hopefully you've got a funk tapestry."

Big Boi has been unfurling that tapestry for awhile now -- two years and 11 months, to be exact. But during that time he's leaked a generous amount of music, including tracks such as "Royal Flush," which features Andre 3000 and Raekwon, "Sumthin's Gotta Give" with Mary J. Blige, "Fo Yo Sorrows" with George Clinton and Too $hort, and, most recently, "Shine Blockas" with Gucci Mane. He says "it's almost like giving (fans) a little sampler from the album and showing how diverse it is.

"Every song that I put out sounds totally different from the previous songs I put out," adds Big Boi, who also worked with T.I., Lil Jon, Jamie Foxx and newcomer B.o.B. on "Sir Lucious..." I slow-cooked this album and, man, I'm just so happy it's about to come out. I cannot wait to give it to the fans."

"Shine Blockas," it turns out, was part of a "swap" with the currently incarcerated Gucci Mane. The fellow Atlanta rapper invited Big Boi to take part in a video shoot, and while there they hatched the idea of doing some recording together. "So we reconvened in the studio one night, late at night, and he pulled up and we did 'Shine Blockas,' " Big Boi recalls. "Gucci Mane's Aquarius and I'm Aquarius, so that energy was flowing in the room and we just had a good time with it."

The following weekend, Big Boi hit the studio again, with Juelz Santana, to guest on a Gucci Mane track called "She's Got a Friend."

The various leaks, Big Boi acknowledges, have teased fans to the point where "they're getting upset (the album) has not dropped yet." But he adds that "all things will work out the way it's supposed to," and promises it will be worth the wait.

"There's been a lot of stops and starts with this project," Big Boi acknowledges. "I've just been trying to make sure we've got the right avenues and the right brains and mindsets together to get the marketing and promoting behind it.

"When you work on something for, like, two years and 11 months, it's like your baby. You want to make sure that everybody has taken the project the way they're supposed to be taking it and the set-up is right."



Big Boi and Monica perform at 10 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 12) at SoundBoard in the Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $30 and $25. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.



Web Site: www.motorcitycasino.com

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