Antwan “Big Boi” Patton first entered the hip hop scene with his partner-in-crime André Benjamin in 1994. The duo, known as OutKast, gave us unforgettable hits such as Ms Jackson, Rosa Parks and Player’s Ball. Taking a break from it all and embarking on a solo career, Big Boi is set to blow us away with his debut album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. With Chico a reference to his late father, the Sir Lucious character appears to be a representation of the mature side of himself, and the album’s complementing tunes reflect Big Boi’s bewildering journey so far.
As I enter the lavish Sanderson Hotel I’m expecting Big Boi to be wearing bling, bling and more bling. How wrong was I. Sitting back and taking one last pull of his cigarette, Big Boi looks very casual but super-fresh. Sharp shape-up, nails trimmed, spanking new creps – he’s looking on point. What’s this Sir Lucious thing all about then, we asked, and why does he love Kate Bush so much?
You’ve got a very weird name for your album: Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. I know your father was known as Chico Dusty but what’s the rest about?
Sir Lucious Left Foot is basically a graduation period for me. It’s just letting people know I’m dead serious about this music. I’m very skilled and I’m very much into my craft and what I do in making funk music and being a true lyricist.
Your songs differ from the usual hip hop stuff about bitches and hoes. Was that a conscious decision or did you just want to get creative in other subjects?
It’s like basically your character comes out in the music, you know what I’m saying. I’m a gentleman first and foremost – I mean I do have a raunchy side – but it doesn’t have to be overbearing. I love women and when I make music about girls I think it’s more to woo the girl. You’ll see that in Turns Me On which is just about talking to the girl.
How does it feel riding solo now? Did you find it hard adjusting?
No, it was pretty simple. Since the album Aquemini, Dre and I have been working in different studios and recording different stuff. We both produce, write and do all aspects of music so a lot of people don’t understand that we don’t have to necessarily be in the same room to make songs. He’d be in his studio and I’d be in mine – we come together and just pour everything on the table. It’s almost like two scientists stitching together a funk Frankenstein. The hardest part is the writing load increasing because instead of writing one verse or a hook you might have to write three verses. There’s more writing and it becomes time-consuming, but it’s still fun.
What side of Big Boi are we expecting in this album?
This is the real grown man Big Boi. Albums are like time capsules so it just really captures the essence of my life, from the last time you heard me, up until when the album comes out. It’s still me but it’s just different things happen at different times so I just talk about it in this album.
What’s your favourite top three?
Fo Yo Sorrows has to be my favourite song on the album; Turns Me On and General Patton.
I thought you would’ve included Shutterbugg or Daddy Fat Sax…
I do love them though but you
Where do you think hip hop stands today?
I think it’s in a good place. It’s getting stronger than ever. There are different forms of it. People don’t make the same type of music which is good because there’s a lot of variety. The words, the message and the voices are still getting out. There are a lot of people getting into hip hop and they all add some interesting things to it especially artists like Janelle Monáe. I like people that are really into the music and expand the art form.
Are there any artists you’re feeling at the moment?
Janelle Monáe; as far as hip hop goes I listen to a lot of older hip hop like De La Soul, Tribe, NWA, Ghetto boys, UGK and stuff like that. I don’t really get into the new stuff.
Could it be because listening to the ‘new stuff’ can make you feel insecure as you get older in the hip hop game?
Never that. Never that. A lot of the so-called new guys that are coming in are older than me, you know what I mean. I’m only 35. Dre and I started when we were like 16 and there’s not an expression date on our funk. As long as the music is turning out gorgeous and lovely to the ears, we keep on doing it; can’t leave the people stranded listening to some bullshit for sure.
A lot of artists are crossing music genres at the moment. We’ve got Akon, Kid Cudi and Kelly Rowland collaborating with dance music master David Guetta. Is that something you see yourself doing or are you just strictly hip hop?
Nah my music is everywhere; it’s not just hip hop – it’s hip hop with a funk base. I utilise every genre in music in the music, you know what I mean. You know I could do dance, if it’s a jam then it’s a jam. It’s gotta be funky.
Can we expect to see Big Boi collaborating with UK artists in the future?
Yeah for sure. If there’s somebody here who wants to work I’m definitely open to working with whoever you know. As long as they’re serious about the music and when we come together and vibe out if something comes out of it, then yeah, why not? I’m open to working with artists that are serious about their craft and those who are in it for the right reasons. It’s all about the betterment of music first and foremost.
Do you have anyone in mind?
Kate Bush. I’ve been trying to get Kate Bush for the last seven years and now I’ve come over here to camp out for a month just to find her. Kate Bush is definitely my dream
As this is Flavour’s Education issue, how important is education to you?
Education is very important. I have
a non- profit organisation called
the Big Kidz Foundation and it’s all about moulding and shaping young minds to prepare them for the future. I’m definitely into that because education is the key to everything. My mum and father at the same time always stressed to me that they didn’t want me to do music unless
I got my education first. I got the good grades.
But what about the young boys who have the mentality of “f*** education I’m gonna chase the hip hop dream”. What’s your view on that?
I’d feel like where the f*** are their parents, you know what I’m saying? You just can’t have no dummies out here. It’s easy to look at TV, movies, music and think it’s one way when it’s not. It’s a facade for kids to get sucked into the glamorous life. But it’s not about that. It’s about getting your education first so you know what decisions you need to make in your life to be successful. Yeah.
Where do you see yourself in
In five years I’ll be doing more
films, still be making music, produce artists and just keep bringing out the new shit. I have a lot of creative energy so you know until I get tired I’mma be here giving it to the people till the end.
Interview by Nadifa Sheikhey