Perhaps the best part about this blend is that it never seems forced. Big Boi is able to show his versatility throughout, and he never seems uncomfortable, regardless of the song’s vibe.
Big Boi did an excellent job of selecting features for this project. He welcomes rappers like T.I., Ludacris, Killer Mike, Kid Cudi, and A$AP Rocky, and also brings along R&B artists like Sleepy Brown, Scar and Kelly Rowland. Non-hip-hop acts like Phantogram, Wavves and Little Dragon contribute heavily to the aforementioned mix of musical genres.
Outstanding and unpredictable production comes from everyone, from Phantogram and Bosko to longtime Outkast collaborators Organized Noise and Mouche.
The Phantogram-assisted tracks “CPU” and “Lines” are great examples of how Big Boi was able to cross genres on the disc. The instrumentation and hooks on both give off a sort of indie-pop vibe, but Big Boi still comes on with top-notch verses. He’s joined by A$AP Rocky on “Lines,” who lays down a great verse as well.
Probably the best — and maybe the only — strictly hip-hop track is “In the A,” which features fellow Atlanta veterans T.I. and Ludacris. It features a hard-hitting beat with great verses from the trio. They clearly have a certain level of rapport when they work together, and in this case, they put forth a great Southern hip-hop jam.
Big Boi’s collaboration with Kid Cudi, “She Hates Me,” is fantastic as well. It features a slow-paced beat, a great hook and smooth harmonizing from Cudi. Yet again, Big Boi offers some great rhymes. While both Cudi and Big Boi are hip-hop artists, this was an interesting and intriguing collaboration, and the result was not disappointing.
The album flows well from start to finish, and “Descending” is a great closing track. The Little Dragon-assisted song features a laid-back beat with vocals to match. The song doesn’t actually feature much rapping from Big Boi, but puts great finishing touches on the album all the same.
Big Boi continues to show that he’s more than capable of shining without his spacey partner, André 3000, and he’s put together a great follow-up to his hit debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. This genre-blending project, packed with outstanding lyrics from Big Boi and company, is a must-listen for any hip-hop fan. —Ryan Querbach