With a title like Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors Big Boi seems to be suggesting that his newest album is full of fire and brimstone. But it’s not. It’s not an extension of the highly lauded Sir Lucious Left Foot either. Instead it’s a standalone project that reflects how far he’s come, and all the creative energy he’s absorbed along the way.
The title was inspired by a book his grandmother intended to write before passing away. It’s a search for truth – amidst lies and rumors of course – chasing the 37-years-young artist’s genesis points: family, friends, and music.
This is Big Boi’s deep sigh of relief after accomplishing a huge feat with Sir Lucious Left Foot, one that has his lyrics flying much freer than before. His new found comfort is apparent from the beginning, and who better to share that with than Dungeon Family cohort Patrick “Sleepy” Brown. Opening with “The Thickets” captures his ease, and here he takes time to reflect upon his growing legacy:
So Shazam me and then you Google Dungeon Family
And when you do you will understand I’m boo koo outta my noodle
With this pad and pen, and boy you penciled in
You’re temporary substitute and we can’t get you in
The album extends itself beyond familiar collaborations as well. Over a third of it features contributions from Little Dragon or Phantogram both of whom spent extended periods of time at Stankonia Studio.They can be bit jarring at first, but they allow Big Boi to organically explore more playful sides. On “Thom Pettie” Yukimi Nagano moans over a synth-soaked beat, and it clashes head on with the overall feel of the album as it’s just too many contrasting styles for one song to contain. It’s a bit gaudy, but Big is affable enough to revisit a familiar level of aggression, while still having a buoyant time doing it:
Your time is running, I’m just like the sand in it
Been jammin’ and half you niggas know you can’t get it
That’s right, it as in I T
You like the apple on your iPhone, niggas always biting
The most successful collaboration comes via Phantogram. On “Objectum Sexuality” Big plays both sides of the coin. He indulges in the lush nature of Phantogram’s triumphant, almost operatic soundscape – Barthel’s hook is particularly whimsical – but he also explores his frustrations as an underrated, supremely talented lyricist trying to make it in a fickle pop world:
Because see time and time again I gotta turn around and tell em
My cerebellum, get way more deeper than these other fellas
Not only about cheddar
But what about the seasons never change and the weather stay the same
We could come together but that might be lame, could learn something
Not every song on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is a home run, and Big Boi knows that. He knows he doesn’t have to deal with the pressures of a solo debut, so naturally the same angst that stirred Sir Lucious before won’t be there now. But what it lacks in edginess it makes up for in veracity.
Sir Lucious and Big Boi are simply two different people. Vicious Lies… by Big Boi is a project that won’t necessarily gain the same attention that Sir Luscious got, but for longtime fans, those in it since Dungeon Family, it couldn’t be a more revealing portrait.