Today’s album, Big Boi’s second solo album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, made it to #3 on my top 12 albums of 2012 list.
Here in its entirety is what I wrote about the album last December, and my new thoughts afterward:
I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a hip-hop head. I do quite enjoy some Wu-Tang, Public Enemy, Black Star, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and the like.
But the problem I’ve always had with hip-hop or rap records is the cheesy interludes and skits. And I know that, like with anything that gets on the radio or is popularized and becomes commercial leaving the “independent” scene behind, that one example isn’t always the norm. Really though, the skits and interludes are downright insufferable. It makes it difficult to get through the whole album without cringing or fearing the upcoming tracks. They’re immediate skips, and are nothing but self-serving, filler clutter.
Thankfully there’s none of that in the second solo outing from one-half of the illustrious OutKast, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. I hadn’t actually heard Big Boi’s previous solo record, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, prior to listening to Vicious Lies. But after indulging in both this month, and reading the reviews for each, I must be in the minority by saying that I feel like Vicious Lies is the stronger of the two albums.
And while there are a few misses on the album (“She Hates Me” featuring Kid Cudi and “CPU” are both too syrupy and cheesy- normally both delicious at breakfast, but they don’t translate well here), Vicious Lies shines largely in part to its guest appearances.
Let there be no mistake about this, though: the guest appearances by artists like Phantogram and Little Dragon make this album.
Full disclosure: this record came out in June, but I didn’t even listen to it until the end of November. The fact that it’s even on this list, let alone that it’s this high, is a real testament to just how much I enjoyed it.
“Ascending” is an intro track with some foreshadowing into a common musical thread in several tracks, but “The Thickets” featuring Sleepy Brown is a JAM of an opening track. “Apple of My Eye” is another jammer, then one of the best tunes at track four with “Objectum Sexuality”, the first appearance by Phantogram. “In the A” is classic southern trap featuring Ludacris, T.I., and a positively raunchy beat.
After the low points at tracks six and seven, Killer Mike (best known for his portrayal of the fictional rapper Ta’Quil in the infamous production that was “Frisky Dingo”) stomps all over the middle of the record with “Thom Pettie.”
One of the Destiny Children (I personally didn’t know there were more than Beyonce- thought she just had 2 clones made) sings over the BEST Prince impression and neo-80s soul beat I’ve ever heard on “Mama Told Me.”
Then, in the second half of Vicious Lies, the record gets even better. My first listen through was just me, sitting back in a chair, mouth agape, little bit of drool.
“Lines” is another Phantogram track, and her music’s influence is clearly evident in the vocal production. The A$AP Rocky verse wasn’t bad either. There’s also a dope production element that is reminiscent of flashing lights- the beat drops two, then three times in rapid succession, creating a musical strobe of sorts. Totally catches you offguard.
“Shoes for Running” is a really fun track with Big Boi doing his best Twista get-up. Keeping with the indie/underground all-star appearances, Wavves’ chorus isn’t bad either. The B.o.B. verse is actually the weakest part of the track, but it’s still not terrible.
“Raspberries” featuring Mouche and Scar is so silky and sugary, it hurts my teeth. The bridge backed by a fuzzed out synth will give you goosebumps, and the song employs some type of new Sigur Ros-esque “feel” language that sounds like words but aren’t actually words at all. “Tremendous Damage” featuring Bosko is the only other track that I regularly have skipped. It’s the only time this album I felt Big Boi’s lyrics were forced and contrite.
Then, by far my favorite track on the album: “Descending,” a profoundly sad tune mourning the death of Antwan Patton’s father. Little Dragon’s vocals are a comforting respite for Patton’s anguish. If anything, the song humanizes a person whom I’ve never, and most likely will never meet, as a real person. A human being who had the real experience of losing a parent. It’s not the sensationalized, drugs/cash money/ho’s/cars/houses/irreverent nonsense one has come to expect from a hip-hop or rap album. I really wish there was more of this in commercial- hell, any music. Tremendous.
HOWEVA, disappointment abounds, because the next three tracks make up for the rare moment of vulnerability by reverting to drugs/ho’s/cash flow. Can’t win ‘em all, right?
From track 9 to the end of Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, it’s like a full-length indie darlings collaboration album has taken up residence on planet “Popular Rapper’s Record.” Engaging and mostly thoughtful, but jams throughout.
I’ve rarely heard a record like this.
On a scale from Milli Vanilla to Tupac Shakur, I give Big Boi’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors a solid “Where did this come from?”
I think that about covers it. At 17 tracks, it’s a beast, but because of the variety of artists and collaborators involved, it doesn’t drag, and stays fresh throughout.
Worth your attention, even if you aren’t a big hip-hop head.
From Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, this is “Thom Pettie” –
Standout tracks: There’s so much to like here, but “In the A” and “Descending” cover both ends of the spectrum.
Weakest track: “She Hates Me” and “She Said OK”
RIYL: Mainstream hip-hop, alternative hip-hop, experimental hip-hop.