Department of Hip-Hop

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By Lewis Wade

Big Boi

Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty

(Def Jam, 2010)

9/10

Three years in the making and we finally received Big Boi’s pseudonym-heavy solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty on July 5th. Big Boi is one half of OutKast and this album has had a horrendous release history. It was all but finished by the beginning of 2009, and with plenty of leaks along the way there wasn’t a lot that hadn’t been heard by the time of release. Anyway, this mess aside, the album is a truly great hip hop record.

If this is the first you’ve heard of this album then I’m not surprised; without the strong, in-your-face influence of André 3000 there hasn’t been too much promotion, especially in the UK. Big Boi was always the kind to sit back in the studio, letting André deal with the fame and press. However, that said, this album is full of wonderfully crafted rap songs, and plenty capable of commercial success. “Shutterbugg” was released back in April (the 20th, no less) and has experienced a fair amount of exposure, though it’s fallen by the wayside somewhat in the UK, as so much hip hop from the states tends to. This track, and its follow-up single, “Follow Us”, boast big catchy choruses flowing alongside carefully constructed verses; Big Boi once again proves himself as one of the fastest and most consistently insightful rappers out there. 

The lazy intro track, “Feel Me”, oozing with a slick Southern sensibility, gives us the atmosphere we’ve come to appreciate from Big Boi, but this aura is immediately lost when we’re whisked away into the second track, “Daddy Fat Sax”. There’s an instant pace to the song, reminiscent of classic OutKast, demonstrating Big Boi’s versatility and confirming his ability to flourish independently. There’s several stand-outs on the album, from the singles, to the T.I. produced “Tangerine”, to the classically tinged “Be Still” which features Janelle Monae. However, the real talent behind the album is prevalent on the tracks without the big bombastic choruses; these are really where Big Boi revels. Tracks like “Hustle Blood” and “Back Up Plan” are low key, soft sounding, and really show off Big Boi’s lyrical skill and ability to create a mood.

Like any rap record worth its weight these days there’s plenty of guests throughout the album (only 3 of the 18 tracks don’t feature someone), and it reads like a who’s who of hip hop heavyweights with the likes of Jamie Foxx, Gucci Mane, George Clinton and Raekwon featuring, to name a few. There’s even a couple of André 3000 appearances on the excellent bonus tracks. There’s something on this album for everyone and it’s been arranged in such a way as to maintain intensity as well as interest throughout. 

Lil Wayne

I Am Not a Human Being

(Cash Money, 2010)

7.5/10

This aptly-titled new offering is Lil Wayne’s eighth (that’s right, eighth!) album, and fifth outwith the ‘Tha Carter’ series. Originally planned to be an EP, this album serves as a dumping ground for anything Lil Wayne doesn’t deem to ‘fit’ with the vibe of Tha Carter IV (out 2011). That being said it’s a pretty impressive release for someone who’s already released one (awful) album this year and has been in jail for the last 7 months. 

Opener “Gonorrhea” takes us back to classic Lil Wayne. He sounds like he’s been sipping on the sizzurp extra hard for this one and the finished product is simply intriguing. After one listen I didn’t know anything about Weezy for sure any more (except he certainly doesn’t want gonorrhea off no bitch); the production is sloppy, the verse is filthier than usual and the chorus is just plain stupid. But I loved it. 

There’s a number of guests in the album, though not quite as many as usual, which fits in with Birdman’s claim that the album is back to “raw rap”. Most of them do a pretty good job; Drake’s verses are stellar as always, even if he does sometimes get a bit too emo for a Lil Wayne album, Nicki Minaj is as aggressive as usual on “What’s Wrong With Them” and T-Streets provides a interesting verse on “Hold Up”. 

Three tracks in and it seems a pretty standard Lil Wayne album, frenetic raps over big drumbeats, easy-going flow…’ and just as you’re about to get lost in the hyper-chilled “With You” you’re struck by the bizarre “I Am Not a Human Being”. Suddenly you recall the horrendous Rebirth earlier this year (Lil Wayne’s ‘rock’ album, remember?) and heavy guitars and a shouty chorus are everything you don’t want to hear. Then, just as you’re about to renounce ever liking Lil Wayne, we’re right back into the classic Weezy formula with “I’m Single”. Did that really just happen? The rest of the album starts to flow along nicely again and you wonder why that dreadful track was ever allowed to be thrown into the middle of the album. 

Special mention has to be made of “Right Above It”, the best track on the album by a long way. It showcases the perfect combination of Lil Wayne and Drake’s rapping ability next to a catchy beat and a justly egotistical chorus.

Basically the album is a good stopgap between Tha Carter III and IV (I refuse to acknowledge Rebirth as a real album), there’s a couple of great tracks, a bunch of mediocre-to-good ones and one horrific blip.  It’s by no means a memorable addition to the Lil Wayne oeuvre, it’s good for what it is: a collection of tracks recorded sporadically and produced with minimal to no input from the man himself. FREE LIL WAYNE.

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