searchsearch
'Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty' At 10: The Story Behind The Missing Tracks From Big Boi's Solo Debut Album

Big Boi in 2010

 

Photo: Don Arnold/Getty Images

news

'Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty' At 10: The Story Behind The Missing Tracks From Big Boi's Solo Debut Album

Partly thanks to label disputes and delays, the former Outkast MC left four singles off his classic debut album; deep cuts of the digital era, they collectively showcase Big Boi's evolution as a solo artist

GRAMMYs/Dec 30, 2020 - 10:47 pm

Big Boi's solo debut was mired in label drama. Despite being half of one of the most commercially and critically successful rap groups of all time, the Outkast MC dealt with numerous label disputes and delays of 2010's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son oO Chico Dusty. "[Jive Records] said, 'This is a piece of art, and we don't know what to do with it,'" the six-time-GRAMMY-winning, 18-time-nominated rapper born Antwan André Patton told The New York Times in 2010. "[T]here were a lot of Jedi mind tricks going on… [t]hey almost tried to kill my career with that waiting."

At the time, many fans believed a full Outkast album—their first since 2006's Idlewild—was imminent. "OK, Big Boi's got Sir Lucious out. They're messing with us, André's going to come next, and then all will be well!" Atlanta journalist Gavin Godfrey tells GRAMMY.com about his mentality at the time, breathlessly imitating an over-hyped hip-hop head. Big Boi himself contributed to the hype, telling Vibe in 2007 that a new Outkast project was due after he and bandmate André 3000 had dropped their solo albums. At press time, a follow-up to Idlewild still hasn't transpired. "It's me, standing alone," Big Boi told the Times of Sir Lucious. "Outkast is a part of who I am. But this album is just me."

Big Boi released Sir Lucious Left Foot, which contains just under an hour of irresistible funk-rap, just over a decade ago, on July 5, 2010. This month, the record club Vinyl Me, Please reissued the album on exclusive purple and silver galaxy vinyl. Due partly to disagreements between Big Boi and Jive Records—where Outkast had moved in 2004 from its RCA-owned sister label, Arista Records—several of its singles didn't make the original release; they don't appear on the VMP reissue either. These four songs—"Royal Flush," "Sumthin's Gotta Give," "Lookin' 4 Ya," and "Ringtone"—are deep cuts of the digital era that showcase Big Boi's evolution as a solo artist.

"Royal Flush," which features Raekwon and Big Boi's Outkast partner André "3000" Benjamin, was Big Boi's first solo single. The spare hip-hop track consists of three verses split up by a sampled hook from the Isley Brothers' Go For Your Guns jam "Voyage to Atlantis." Big Boi boasts about his studio filled with potions of emotion; Raekwon describes soaring past police on the way home to his castle. But on a verse triple the length of the others, André warns against turning to crime. "Unfortunate that if you come up fortunate, the streets consider you lame," he raps. "I thought the name of the game was to have a better life / I guess it ain't; what a shame."

Watch: OutKast's 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below': For The Record

A spiritual sequel of sorts to "Skew It on the Bar-B," a 1998 Outkast track which also featured the Wu-Tang Clan rapper, the track shows off the MCs' skill as rappers and writers. Furthermore, it shows that Big Boi's meant his solo work to be an extension of his work with Outkast, not a break from it. "It had the same feeling as I did when I was in high school, and "Rosa Parks" came out," Godfrey, who recently revisited the duo's 2000 album Stankonia for NPR, remarks. "It was so cool and different in a way that only could have been created by Outkast."

On "Lookin' 4 Ya," Big Boi teams up with André and frequent collaborator Sleepy Brown for a song about delicious anticipation for sex. André wants to test every piece of furniture for stability. Big says he and his partner have been digging each other for so long they're like archaeologists. Instead of trading verses over silky-smooth funk courtesy of the Dungeon Family collective, the trio raps over a pounding beat produced by a then-upcoming Boi-1da. "Lookin' 4 Ya" is another impactful reunion with André, combining harsh textures with an R&B hook for a quasi-industrial vibe.

Watch: OutKast's "The Way You Move" ReImagined By Big Boi

Big envisioned "Royal Flush" and "Lookin' 4 Ya" on the Sir Lucious tracklist from the beginning. He even told East Village Radio that "Lookin' 4 Ya" was to follow "Hustle Blood," and "Royal Flush" was to end the album because he wanted his friend André to have the last word. So why did neither song make it on the album?

"I don't think Jive looked at Big Boi as a top-caliber artist without his partner," David Lighty, the former senior director of A&R at Jive, told the Times. "They wanted an Outkast album so bad that when it didn't happen, they were more disappointed than anything." Frustrated with delays, Big Boi left Jive Records for Def Jam. In return, Jive blocked any collaborations between the two from release on another label on the grounds of them being Outkast tracks—a group still signed to Jive's roster. 

André's only contribution to Sir Lucious Left Foot is producing the beat for "Ain't No DJ." "[T]hey can't stop us, man. [I've] been knowing Dre half my life," Big Boi told GQ in 2010. "And for these people that we don't even know, that haven't even had a hand in our career at all, that's fking blasphemy."

"Royal Flush" leaked to the Internet, was officially released as a single in spring 2008 and was eventually nominated for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group at the 51st GRAMMY Awards. "Lookin 4 Ya" never received an official release but leaked a month before Sir Lucious Left Foot's release, with additional verses. In the same GQ interview, Big Boi implied he leaked them himself. "You know, I'm no stranger to that Internet, baby," he said. The thirst of the fans will be quenched."

"Sumthin's Gotta Give," also from 2008, was a departure from his usual approach. On this topical song, the ATLien raps about economic struggle and laments there are "no more messages in music." Mary J. Blige joins him for the chorus, lamenting lost jobs and hoping "Maybe in November, I'll be cheering for Obama." Big had rapped politically before — on "War," from 2003's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, he name-checked Osama bin Laden, the slain journalist Daniel Pearl, and the Black Panther activist Fred Hampton. But he had never been so overt.

Read: OutKast Examine Their Southern Experience On 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik'

Big Boi working with a superstar vocalist like Blige was an exciting prospect. "After Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, these dudes have gone diamond, they've won Album of the Year at the GRAMMYs, so they were officially certified superstars," Godfrey says. "People see him on a track with Mary J. Blige and think it's some kind of label pairing, but I feel like Big Boi isn't one of those dudes to pair up with people just to say he did. He's such a musical dude that he's like 'There is something in this song that I can create that can't be enhanced unless I have Mary J. Blige on it.'"

The slap-bass-heavy beat of "Sumthin's Gotta Give" sounds like it's trying to split the difference between New York swing and Atlanta funk, and Big Boi possibly prioritized the track's motivational message over its music. "That was basically to get people out to the polls to vote." Big Boi told HipHopDX in 2010, explaining why "Somthin's Gotta Give" wouldn't make the Sir Lucious tracklist.

Big Boi's upbeat 2009 single "Ringtone," a come-on to a girl who's got her ringtone in Big's phone even though they barely know each other. From its talkbox vocals to its synth bleeps. one could hear "Ringtone" as a brief history of Black soul music, leading up to the hollowed-out, autotuned sound of Lil Wayne's 2008 hit "Lollipop." Godfrey points to Big Boi's now-adult children as enabling him to stay current. "He knows what the kids like, so to speak," he says. "He's always tapped in; he's not one of these old hip-hop heads."

"Ringtone" was officially released as a bonus track to Sir Lucious Left Foot's deluxe edition under the alternate title "Theme Song," possibly to avoid the negative connotations of the 2000s ringtone-rap trend. While the track wasn't a hit, it sounds like it could have been—in a universe just slightly funkier than our own. Of the four left off the album, only "Royal Flush" and "Ringtone"/"Theme Song" survive in the streaming era. The other two are only available through dead links on rap blogs and unofficial YouTube uploads of dubious quality.

Big Boi has now been a solo artist almost as long as he's been part of Outkast. Since Sir Lucious Left Foot, he's continued making hip-hop steeped in the funk and soul traditions—even bringing his unique approach to the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show. After the haze of delays and disputes has cleared, Sir Lucious and its leftovers remain highlights in an impressive catalog. "I am content with the knowledge that there probably will never be another Outkast album," Godfrey says. "But if there are more Big Boi albums, I'm fine with that."

Deep 10: OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

news

Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

Mumu Fresh On What She Learned From Working With The Roots, Rhyming & More

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

news

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

news

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

Ivan Barias On Silence As Complicity, Holding Major Labels Accountable & How To Be A Non-Black Latinx Ally

Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup

Doja Cat

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

news

Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup

Find out who's bringing the heat to the hip-hop fest returning to L.A. this December

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2019 - 12:11 am

Today, Rolling Loud revealed the massive lineup for their final music festival of 2019, Rolling Loud Los Angeles, which is set to take over the Banc of California Stadium and adjacent Exposition Park on Dec. 14–15.

This iteration of "the Woodstock of Hip-Hop," as the all-knowing Diddy has called it, will feature Chance the RapperLil Uzi VertJuice WRLDYoung Thug and Lil Baby as Saturday's heavy-hitting headliners. Sunday's headliners are none other than Future, A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill, YG and Playboi Carti.

L.A.'s own Blueface, Tyga and Doja Cat, are slated to perform, as well as representatives from the diverse rap scenes across the country, including Wale, Juicy J, Lil Yachty, Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Tyla Yaweh, Machine Gun Kelly and Yung Gravy.

The lineup announcement follows the successful wrap of Rolling Loud Bay Area in Oakland this past weekend. The event's flagship Miami event took place in May this year, and the New York and Hong Kong debut editions will both take place later this month.

Tickets for Rolling Loud L.A. go on sale this Friday, Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. PST. The complete lineup and more info on this event and their other fests can be found here.

Where Do You Keep Your GRAMMY: Fantastic Negrito