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Big Boi – Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

Posted on the 12 December 2012 by Audiocred @audiocred

And the award for most anticipated hip-hop album of the year goes to… Big Boi’s done a masterful job over the past couple months hyping up Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, his sophomore solo effort. A lot of that has been based on an endless line of guest spots, headlined by T.I and Ludicrous on the single “In the A,” though Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T. and B.O.B are far from throwaway names. Now here’s the weird part: despite the phalanx of rappers Big Boi has recruited, Vicious Lies isn’t so much a collection of highlights as one long, meandering road to an unclear destination.

A lot of that has to do with the indie darlings who Big Boi leans on to provide production help and a couple hooks. Phantogram has a memorable place on no fewer than three tracks, and Wavves’ stint on “Shoes for Running” offers a surprising West Coast infusion

 Big Boi   Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
(that is nonetheless really freaking awesome). But while “Objectum Sexuality” (one of the aforementioned Phantogram jams) offers a silky rhythmic texture and Big Boi spitting some of his best flow of the whole album, the last third of Vicious Lies dips down into coffeeshop low gear, resulting in more than a few songs that feel like weak b-sides against the near-brilliance that characterizes the songs that lead up to “In The A.”

“The Thickets” gives us an unparalleled platform for Big Boi’s nimble braggadocio (‘I’m truly one of the baddest motherfuckers who ever do it, done did it, done do it again, and ain’t nobody taught me’) and “Apple of My Eye” offers a bouncy two-step that seems like a stripped down cut off of 2010′s Sir Lucious Left Foot: the Son of Chico Dusty. In case you hadn’t grasped what a big deal Big Boi is yet, “In the A” takes as a hook a sample from “Shutterbugg,” the lead single off Lucious Left Foot. I mean, who else to base this blockbuster track on than the artist himself? Here, though, that supremely danceable jam is slowed down and torqued into a sinister beat much truer of the hometown that Big Boi, T.I. and Luda all do their best to pay tribute to.

The big blast of “In the A” marks a high note that Vicious Lies builds up to and never manages to touch again. “She Hates Me” is a nice enough semi-love song, but its subtle production can’t quite hold its own. Likewise, “Mama Told Me,” despite the celebrated guest spot of Kelly Rowland, can’t quite grab you like the first few tracks here do.

It’s tough to come up with a coherent critique of Vicious Lies because the album itself shies away from advancing any specific musical idea or agenda. The songs are offered up, and they’re all at least pretty good, but the overall effect seems to be eclecticism for it’s own sake. That might sound like a criticism of lead producer Chris Charmouche (aka Mouche), but it isn’t–the production throughout is relatively consistant, even as different rappers and Bonnaroo regulars are slotted in seemingly at random.

No, what Vicious Lies lacks the most is hunger. On Lucious Left Foot, Big Boi’s aim was clear: prove to everyone that OutKast was more than André 3000 and a sidekick. The result was a brilliant album that popped with life and spunk. Here, though, Big Boi feels far more interested in getting all his friends involved than really putting himself in the spotlight (out of 17 tracks, only three showcase Big Boi on his lonesome). 

On the flip side, though, it’s hard to come up with another hip-hop album that sounds anything like Vicious Lies. There’s an innovative tilt to a lot of the collaborations here, and the experiments never fail outright. The ultimate legacy of Vicious Lies, then, will hardly be as a disappointment. But in a year that’s been so good for the new faces of hip-hop, simply banking on ‘triple OG status’ just isn’t enough, no matter how many friends you’ve accumulated on your way there.

bars3half Big Boi   Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

3.5 / 5 bars

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