A reflection on the talent of Antwan Andre Patton
As Antwan André Patton set a genre on fire with his groundbreaking work in hip-hop duo Outkast along André 3000, he became universally known as Big Boi, his stage name. In his accomplished post-Outkast career, he also goes by Sir Lucious Left Foot.
These identities all deserve the same respect and accolades.
While Big Boi has led an impressive solo career in the years after Outkast’s last album, 2003’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” his accomplishments are exhaustively compared to those of André 3000.
The name Big Boi has built for himself outside the shadow of Outkast in the music industry should be allowed to stand apart without any comparison to his counterpart’s.
His 2017 record “Boomiverse” showcased his ability to sample a variety of different subgenres of hip hop — perhaps inspired by his Outkast counterpart, who typically fostered the duo’s exploration — to make one cohesive and successful project.
Experimentation aside, Big Boi has repeatedly proven his rightful place in music with his calculated consistency.
Even in the aftermath of Outkast and the success that came with the project, he is not throwing in the towel just yet.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he said in reference to his work with André 3000, “We’ve done everything there is to do in music. We won the highest prize, we sold the most records.”
Even while acknowledging the massive success that Outkast was and still is, Big Boi remains resilient. That, to me, shows that he respects his trade enough to know that he still has room to grow.
On top of this, one of the things I find most compelling about Big Boi is his attachment to his words. In an interview with XL, he said, “Lyricism, it's all about lyrics, taking pride in your pen and your pad."
While his Outkast counterpart André 3000 was usually one to take the lead on musical experimentation, Big Boi honed his attention in on what he does best: traditional Southern rap.
His flow is always consistent, with lyrics hand-picked to match the theme of the song.
Simply put, Big Boi is a fantastic lyricist.
This past winter, during the typical growing pains that Seattle winters bring, I delved deeper into Outkast’s discography, specifically “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.”
The double album is comprised of two solo albums made separately by Outkast’s respective members: “Speakerboxxx” belonging to Big Boi, and “The Love Below” to André 3000. The combination of Patton’s Southern hip-hop with André 3000’s experimental jazz and electronic ballads made for one of the most iconic and best-selling hip-hop albums of all time.
My personal discovery of the song “Unhappy,” which, not surprisingly, comes from “Speakerboxxx,” was a game changer for me in such an uncertain and bleak time.
In the song, much like in the rest of “Speakerboxxx,” Big Boi isn’t afraid of getting candid about the struggles of his personal life as well as the world as large.
“Unhappy” touches on family trauma and the hardships of seeing one’s parents drift away from each other, a story I’m very familiar with.
This discovery was pivotal for me to come to fully appreciate Big Boi’s work and the ways in which it stands apart from André’s.
The single “All Night” from “Boomiverse” exploded months after its initial release, when Apple resurrected it for an iPhone X ad in November of 2017. The amount of airplay and critical acclaim it received even months after the record released was a testament of the durability and consistency of his music.
In his October 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Concert, this attitude loomed in his every word.
His performance of a stripped-down rendition of “So Fresh, So Clean,” from Outkast’s 2000 record “Stankonia” served as a reminder to the world he isn’t going anywhere, and he deserves to take up space in hip hop — even almost 20 years later.
Listeners must be sure to not place any constraints on him.
Big Boi is continuously making strides in music, free of any creative constraints as a solo artist.
By: Taylor Muñoz