Big Boi's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors: A First Listen

Categories: First Listens

"Shoes for Running"
Wavves sings the hook and it fucking blows. It's impossible to charter the power exchange at this point; are these bands moving up, so en vogue that our established boy really needs them? Or is Big Boi slumming it, rudderless, eternally optimistic about searching for a new sound but exposed to random outfits that don't cohere into an aesthetic? The reliance on guests to steer the ship when virtually none of them are actually doing it is a familiar tale in rap -- just look at D12. But it's becoming less and less difficult to see why Andre 3000 was too "busy" to contribute to these weak, inexplicable songs. Oh god, there's a children's choir for no reason.

"Raspberries"
Strange, clappy beat and aimless hook from someone named Mouche and Scar (?) plants us firmly back in "Electric Circus" territory. Does he really think these tracks are as essential as "Shine Blockas" or "Follow Us," much less "B.O.B."? Or is he just so relaxed that he's falling off the couch?

"Tremendous Damage"
These songs are so. Fucking. Slow. Ironically, Big Boi's singing voice is really nice! Husky and carrying the tune, which is his "Rooster," about his Dad in Vietnam and questioning religion. If only he carried the whole thing; don't need this overproduced Bosko chorus about being "strong like a soldier." If only the tune wasn't a five-minute piano ballad.

"Descending"
Okay, this is getting beyond the pale. Stay off the sizzurp, Big Boi. This is like the 15-minute song on the last Yo La Tengo album, but one-third the length and three times as boring. Go away Little Dragon.

"Higher Res"
808s, artful polyrhythms, messy sonics, zzzzzzzz. this psychedelic experience is truly turning into a bad trip. This is aiming for the surround-sound binaural explosions of Primal Scream's Vanishing Point, but it's almost unlistenable. The Idlewild album kept it together a lot better than this. The movie probably did too.

"Gossip"
Finally a good song! And surprise, it's a fucking normal rap song. With UGK and Big K.R.I.T., guests that make sense. Really, I'm not the guy to argue for conservatism in rap so you can imagine how annoyed I am at having to tell our hero to shut down all his wacky ideas. And no matter how innocuous and slick he, his flows, or his boasts remain, we're at the close of a 17-track album and this is maybe the fourth good song. Disappointing.

"She Said OK"
In keeping with the rest of this record, which slowly revealed itself to be the worst of Big Boi's career, this is a song with nice things, and then horrible things compromising them. This is a pretty little phase-shifting funk beat. Then this joyless stiff of a chorus comes in: "Let me see your titties/ She said OK/ Let me see your pussy/ She said OK." Is this a Snoop record or Big Boi? :(

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