Big Boi hasn't slowed down since releasing his masterful solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot, in July 2010. The one-time OutKast wordsmith has toured throughout the world for the better part of the past two years, playing everywhere from international festivals such as Glastonbury in the U.K. to college homecoming shows at the Tabernacle.
Along the way, Big Boi has slowly pieced together his lush, nuanced follow-up record, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. For his latest 14-song effort, he tapped the old Dungeon Family vanguard as well as some of indie rock's most promising talents. As a result, he's connected Killer Mike to Little Dragon, paired B.o.B with Wavves, and hooked up A$AP Rocky and Phantogram on respective tracks. It's this fusion of retro sonic styling and fresh faces that colors Big Boi's workmanlike consistency on Vicious Lies, which he frequently refers to as being "organically created" and "never genetically modified." Before dropping Vicious Lies on Dec. 11, Big Boi took a few minutes to talk about the album's creation, as well as his fascination with Kate Bush and Mumford & Sons.
You've mentioned this idea of "building a house" on Vicious Lies, constructing a whole album from start to finish. At the same time, you've been on the road for the past two years. Does your live show ever inform your recording process?
Not really, I just look forward to performing the songs — you know what I'm saying? I like to mix songs first and then [see] where they fall when the songs line up, like it'd be cool to, you know, put them in a show. Like you said, as the show being a medley, when you've got a catalogue that spans 20 years, all the people want to hear some of everything. It's going to be kind of crazy, with this record in particular, to squeeze all these songs into the same set, like an hour-and-a-half set.
OutKast's 20-year anniversary is approaching. What's similar and what's different in your musical approach?
It's digital mostly, it's instant. I can record a song tonight and mix it and have it on the radio by the morning if I wanted to. The studio is automatic because the simple fact of me using social media ... everything is so quick. You just really got to have the bullets in a row. As far as writing things, you just have to go in and do it. That's what I do. I don't want no two songs on my album to sound alike. It's like a lock and safe, and trying to get that perfect combination. When you find it, it's very gratifying.
How do you know which collaborations are the right ones?
There's a certain vibe you get, I mean, there's some artists where everything's organically created, never genetically modified. I get in a certain creative space with certain artists, I love Little Dragon's music. I love Phantogram's music. I love A$AP's stuff. T.I. and Luda, I've got major respect for. I either have to be a fan of your music or it just has to be some kind of magical moment.
You ran into A$AP Rocky at V-103's studio. Had you heard of him before then and how did you end up working together from there?
My Godbrother showed me some videos. I was looking at some of his stuff and I was like, damn, he sounds like he's from Texas ... that Goldie record, this shit is banging. I bumped into him at the radio station and he wanted to come jam and within a couple hours of me meeting him he was in the booth [working] on my [album].
He's 24 and B.o.B's 24. When OutKast released their first record they both were relatively young, and were probably looking up to you and Andre 3000.
We were 17 on our first record. 17 and 18.
What's it like working with artists looking up to you? I'm sure you've done it in the past, but probably the age gap is more so than at any other point.
There's no such thing as an age gap. I think [there's] a seniority rank type of thing, where they grew up on the music so they already know my music and respect what I do and to be working with me. I'm honored to work with them just as they are honored to work with me. There's a mutual respect. Me? I still consider myself a student in the game. I'm always learning and it's just cool to have artists out here that admire what you're doing and you can put them in a certain light when people haven't heard of them before.
You also have the Dungeon Family regulars on Vicious Lies. Obviously, you'll never distance yourself fully from Dungeon Family, but to what degree do you want them on your records? Does that feeling ever waver?
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