Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Def Jam Records (July 5, 2010)
– Andrew Hamlet
When Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, one half of the six-time Grammy Award-winning duo Outkast, announced his plans to release a solo record in 2007, both critics and fans were shocked. How could Big Boi release anything worth listening to without collaborating with the seemingly more creative and eccentric Andre 3000? Outkast’s own label, Jive Records, even had their doubts, ultimately leading to a refusal to release the album (Def Jam picked up the record). Even more, Jive legally prevented Big Boi from featuring his partner in crime on the record. From both an aesthetic and business perspective, it appeared as though Big Boi had been set up for failure.
Well…If Andre 3000 is solely responsible for the success of Outkast, it appears Big Boi has been taking good notes over the past fifteen years. On Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam), Patton comes out swinging, resolute to prove to everyone, including himself, that he can create masterpieces without the help of Andre 3000. And even without Mr. 3000, Sir Lucious Leftfoot features everything we love about the Outkast catalogue. This album has Stankonia’s P-Funk psychedelia, Aquemini’s genre-bending selection of sounds, and Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’s expert use of 808s and classic soul samples. Big Boi has effectively maintained Outkast’s reputation for forward-thinking, artistically inclined Hip Hop without the input of Andre 3000.
Big Boi did not produce this work without collaboration, however; Sir Lucious Leftfoot features twelve producers and thirteen other artists. In fact, this album reads like a “who’s who” of Southern Hip Hop. Big Boi contracted beats from the likes of Lil’ Jon, Scott Storch, Knightheet, and longtime Dungeon Family collaborators Organized Noize, and the verses feature raps from none other than T.I., B.O.B., Yelawolf, and Gucci Mane. The artists are not limited to rappers, though; Sir Lucious Leftfoot showcases vocals from Janelle Monae, Jamie Foxx, Sleepy Brown, and Vonnegutt.
Big Boi has always been credited (one of his few accolades) for using his characteristically double time flow to turn seemingly unconventional tracks into instant hits, and he continues his legacy on Sir Lucious Leftfoot. On “General Patton,” Antwan raps over an operatic sample taken from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Vieni, o guerriero vindice.” The massive choral-chant sets the stage for an epic battle, and Big Boi challenges anyone that questions his place in the Pantheon of Hip Hop. Big Boi not only seeks to defend his own dominance but also his region’s. As an ambassador for the South, Big Boi asserts his homeland’s place in the history of American music when he opens the track “Get the South’s dick out your mouth!”
Thematically, the sense of place recurs throughout Sir Lucious Leftfoot. Big Boi wants the listener to know he is a proud Southerner that has grown up in Atlanta, Georgia (he is originally from Savannah, Georgia). On “Tangerine,” Big Boi evokes the South through allusions to the region’s food; he coolly asks his woman to “Shake it like some Texas Pete droppin’ on your collard greens.” And in true rapper fashion, Patton gives shout outs to specific places that have had an influence on his life. In “You Ain’t No DJ,” Big Boi rapidly spits off the Atlanta neighborhoods “Decatur, East Point, College Park, [and] SWATS,” and even references East Point’s “Campbellton Road” when rapping about a plan to avoid a roadblock.
The most humorous reference to place occurs during a skit between “You Ain’t No DJ” and “Hustle Blood.” The dialogue takes place between a man named Henry and a woman named Keisha. Henry contacts Keisha on a less than subtle booty-call. When Keisha learns that Henry lives in Duluth, a suburb outside Atlanta’s perimeter Interstate 285, she exclaims she will not come see Henry unless he will pay for her tank of gas. As she says, “There ain’t nothing outside 285 but a bunch of trees…not ah.” It would not be too outlandish to assume Big Boi has experienced a similar situation trying to convince his old neighborhood friends to come meet him in the golf course riddled suburbs north of Interstate 285. Additionally and perhaps most importantly, this comedic skit allows Big Boi to tacitly acknowledge he has moved on up and out of his East Point neighborhood to relocate to the more affluent suburbs of Atlanta.
And like any other commercial Hip Hop record, sex and promiscuity permeate these fifteen tracks. However, Big Boi not only includes this requisite material but also embellishes it to the point of sounding like a sex-crazed maniac. As Pitchfork’s Tom Breihan states, “[Patton sounds] like a fired-up eleven year old goofing off in the back of some sort of prodigy-level English Class.” This content is presented both implicitly and explicitly. Resembling Guy B Johnson’s thoughts on double meanings in Blues music (i.e., African American songs), Big Boi employs mundane, everyday language to conjure up sexual topics. He refers to the female breasts and buttocks as “Tangerines” and he not so cleverly describes the ecstasy of climax when he states, “Put that venom up in em’ until I leave them with the shakes.” As for the explicit content, it appears as though Big Boi has a thing for female bodily fluid. At least three separate songs feature verses concerning “Making her drip,” “Keep[ing] her soakin wet to the touch,” and “Think[ing] she is cummin.” And if saturating the lyrical content with promiscuity was not enough, the beat in “Hustle Blood” centers itself around samples of both male and female moans of pleasure. Needless to say, Sir Lucious Leftfoot reeks of sex.
Big Boi has done practically everything in his power with this album to convince the public of his ability to hold his own. And honestly, one would have to be deaf not to hear this. Sure, the work of Patton and 3000, collectively, transformed Atlanta, the once home of the 1923 Okeh Recording sessions, into a major commercial center for Hip Hop music. But Sir Lucious Leftfoot continues to solidify Big Boi’s role as the vanguard of Southern Hip Hop, and in the process, reinforces Atlanta’s legacy for producing some of the greatest talent in the genre. Now, the real question is with Big Boi’s demonstrated success on this record, will he return to collaborate with Andre 3000, or is this the beginning of the end for Outkast? Recent reports from both individuals state there is no intention to break the all-star group apart, but with a now solid track record for putting out ambitious, successful records on his own, will Big Boi wait around? We will have to wait and see…Either way, though, we can count on the future record to, once again, both change the genre and leave the public in awe.