Since Speakerboxxx/The Love Below showcased Outkast's individual talents, André 3000 has generally been regarded as the auteur of the duo. And while that might be true -- André 3000 does tend to be weirder than his colleague Big Boi -- there's something to be said for consistency, as the latter proves on his latest, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.
Held up by label disputes (Outkast's label Jive called the album "too artsy," as Big Boi told the Village Voice last week) for three and a half years, Lucious Left Foot is definitively a Big Boi album. As on Speakerboxxx, Antwan Patton dabbles heavily in funk rhythms (there's a collaboration with George Clinton, the godfather himself on Left Foot) and liberally employs his trademark bursts of rapid-fire delivery for a sound that recalls the building blocks of old-school hip-hop.
Just the same, Big Boi's sound is frenetic and quirky enough not to confused with merely being a throwback, and Lucious Left Foot is, if anything, more contemporary-sounding and more eclectic than his first solo effort. And the "too artsy" tag: Pretty groundless. In spite of its eclecticism, the record is nothing if not accessible.
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"General Patton," for instance, features an operatic sample reminiscent of The Streets on A Grand Don't Come for Free, while "Be Still" combines swirling synths and atmosphere for a sound somewhere between Kanye West circa 808s and Heartbreak and TV on the Radio. "You Ain't No DJ," meanwhile, rides on an André 3000-produced beat that sounds suspiciously like the scary-castle theme from Super Mario World. And the whole thing all comes together seamlessly.
It's still not as weird as The Love Below, and Big Boi is still appreciably more pragmatic than his counterpart. But he splits the difference between André 3000's hyperactive peculiarities and the group's more traditional early work nicely, and Lucious Left Foot showcases an artist who's willing to explore his growing range of interests while keeping them well reigned in from the precipice of indulgence.