Two years since his debut solo release Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Big Boi is back for another studio release. As the world begs and pleads for another Outkast album, Big Boi proved on his first album that he can hold his own when it comes to a solo album. Keeping true to the Organized Noise productions and the Outkast sound that the fans have been quite familiar with, people were anticipating just how VLDR would sound. I know I was curious and excited, so hopefully it wasn’t going to be a disappointment. The first thing I noticed just from looking at the tracklist was that it was very feature heavy, but if you’ve been following Outkast for a while, specifically Big Boi, you know that he does have a lot of features on his projects, so I wasn’t concerned about all of that.
Ascending set the tone on the album as if it was initial pull from a blunt wrap filled with weed. It’s the take off that enables the listener to sit down, get comfortable and get into a zone. It’s the state of being lifted to another place, and musically, that’s what Big Boi was hinting at as he formally introduces himself and the album to the listener. There’s a smooth transition into The Thickets and he goes right into it. Big Boi is often overlooked when it comes to one of the great rappers in the game, because people have always just seen him as one half of Outkast and not the individual rapper that he is. He proved that he can hold his own with his first album, and even throughout the Outkast albums over the years, he showed that he can spit with Andre 3K. It’s good that Big Boi hasn’t strayed far from his roots when it came to his production & features. Sleepy Brown has always been useful on Hooks for Outkast, so having him on the album was very necessary.
Apple of my Eye embodies that ‘Ragtime Swing’ style that you could trace back to Idlewild, but it was that jazzy feel that carried some songs on the previous album. We always have that one person (or multiple people) that catches our attention, no matter what your sexual preference is, there are reasons to which we can’t explain why we’re so attracted to them – it just happens that way, and often times, what comes after the first glance? The first thought comes to mind, and we’re guilty of looking at them like a sexual object; Objectum Sexuality is the song that describes our thoughts. This has a Funky vibe to it given the co-production with Indie pop band, Phantogram. Objectum Sexuality is defined as building a strong romantic desire towards an inanimate object. Now, in this song, there are many references to a ‘her’ but rappers often refer to the hip hop game as a woman, so that could be the sexual object he’s pertaining to. I liked this one because it’s different, but it’s a funky vibe (as I stated beforehand) and I like when artists can think outside of the box and actually make it effective. At the end of it however, I wasn’t expecting Roscoe Dash to have an inaudible soliloquy telling people where he’s from and where we can find him. I mean…I don’t think anyone cares to be honest, but we’ll let him have his moment.
Atlanta is a very proud city in the South and you can’t talk about hip hop cities without mentioning it along with Houston & Miami when it comes to the South. In the A is the latest anthem to surface for the historically hip hop iconic city. This track features 2 of the biggest names to come out of Atlanta, whom many debated between who was the King of the South: T.I & Ludacris. This one had your classic ‘drumline’ sound that Atlanta prides itself with (and still a good movie), and a thumping bass that not only made it a knocking track that you could groove to. It almost felt like you could step to it as well, but unless you’re in a Frat or Sorority, I wouldn’t advise it. There’s a lot of pride being spewed in this song about the ATL, and there’s a lot of replay value. All rappers went hard on this one
As we wait for Kid CuDi to release an album that will wash the stain of WZRD off of Hip Hop’s quilt, he was on featured on She Hates Me, which sounded more like a Kid CuDi song than a Big Boi song, but again, that’s just stepping outside of the boundaries and being experimental. When a man is dedicated to something that he’s passionate about, they tend to neglect those close to us. Well, in this instance, it’s a woman. Of course she would be upset, and to the point of hating the man, but it’s up to the man to make her love him again (which is part of the hook). Mr. Mescudi is good with the hooks, so this one wasn’t a disappointment.
CPU kept with the futuristic pop sound that was evident in Objectum Sexuality, and it pretty much followed the same storyline with the romanticism tied into it, but it got digitally frisky. But at the same time, Big Boi shed light on the fact that the Internet can be a wasteland because there’s a lot of filth on there and mindless sites that can rot our brains into digital mush. There was a message at the end that could spark a little nugget into your head talking about how iTunes downloads are low, Student debt is higher than Credit Card debt, and the issues with the Housing market.
Little Dragon is a group that Brandon Dramatic told me about and a group that has grown to be pretty popular among the urban community. Thom Pettie is one of the songs that they are featured on (along with the Descending outro), and they brought their DigiFunkSoul style, mingled in with the Southern bounce. Now, all I know about Tom Petty (the person whose name is the title, but spelled incorrectly) is that he is the frontman of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (they performed in the Superbowl Halftime show a few years ago). Big Boi has said on numerous interviews that ‘Tom Petty-ing’ is an act of ‘Free Falling’ (stated in the hook) meaning that you see where you’re going to end up when you go out on the town. Killer Mike, who has been a repetitive feature artist for Outkast over the years, put out a good verse, and the overall sound had a zoned out feel. Made you feel as if you were high for the overall duration. Mama Told Me took a different approach; it had a retro-futuristic style that seemed like it was made in the 80s, but it added bounce and Kelly Rowland provided her charm in the best way. It wasn’t memorable, but this is definitely one that will get a lot of rotation. Big Boi seemed played with the theme of positive energy, having a chip on his shoulder, and sexual references while tossing and turning different styles to encompass the album’s sound, rather than keeping it one-dimensional like his first album.
Lines gave us A$AP Rocky like we haven’t heard a lot of. Usually, he’s rapping about how many bitches he can get while wearing clothes that I’d rather not try to spell or pronounce, because I know both will be incorrect. Being an underdog trying to make it to the top, there are areas we have to go where no one else we know would, especially if you come from an area that many people wouldn’t go everyday. Big Boi keeps it autobiographical because it’s essentially a continuation with his story that you probably haven’t heard when he was with Outkast all of those years. This song was one of the better ones on the album.
The sound of the album started to become really redundant at this point. B.O.B (another Atlanta native) had a good verse on Shoes For Running, but I think I was more thrown off by the beat and the hook by Wavves. Big Boi got political with this one making reference to the Occupy movement, the elections and other government scams that you can ‘seemingly’ run from, but at the end of it all, it’ll always catch up to you. The ‘it’ in this case, is death. The beat & hook killed it for me, but subject wise in the lyrics, there was depth that was good especially when relating to today’s issues. It’s a good way to make use of the platform you’re given.
Raspberries is a song about a woman who Big Boi is having a conversation about with his boys at separate occasions. I got that, but what I didn’t get was that later on, I couldn’t understand what the HELL he was saying because maybe he was trying to emphasize that he was drunk and his boy (Scar on the 2nd verse) was trying to get him to calm down, but the main thing was that he wanted to get this girl’s number, but he wasn’t sure. We all have those friends that want to talk to someone who caught their attention, but didn’t have the courage to do so. This was pretty much one of those songs.
Descending put a smooth exclamation mark on this album with the help of Little Dragon yet again. I felt like this was an experimental album when it came to thinking outside of the box, and I felt the creativity, but it started to get to a point where it got redundant, and you’d get lost in the instrumentals where it sounded more pop than actual Hip Hop. Now, it doesn’t matter what your take on hip hop is, but this isn’t your traditional Hip Hop album, but at the same time, Outkast hasn’t always been your traditional Hip Hop group. Big Boi was out to make a statement with this album because people still doubted him as a solo artist, so he went above and beyond to put out a piece of work, and it’s quite the piece of work that no one really expected, but it was still good; no great, but good. Definitely check it out because it appeals to those who aren’t just Hip Hop heads – there is crossover value that many will either appreciate or dismiss. Big Boi brought a diverse range of sounds on this one to show that he can essentially do it all. More of a hit than a miss, so it’s worth the listen. This is just my opinion and my review, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX