As hotly anticipated as it was, Atlanta rapper Big Boi’s newly released Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors isn’t exactly what you expect, being that it is a massive deviation from its acclaimed predecessor, 2010’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. Although the 37-year-old hip hop Outkast artist morphed his follow-up into a melodically diverse, collaborative, and overall unique record, it pretty much underwhelms Big Boi’s fans. I, personally, had a lot to look forward to, as the lead single off of Vicious Lies, “In the A,” was a colossal relief that his next album might not be so bad. It’s not a “Shutterbugg” nor a “Shine Blockas,” two of Big Boi’s awesomest hits from Sir Lucious, but it’s enough to carry itself to the top. Of course, I have been proven wrong, as Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors feels like a mediocre movie sequel to a critically and commercially successfully film (in this case, it’s Sir Lucious Left Foot.) But some may see this new album as Big Boi’s breaking of the barrier between electronic, indie rock, hip hop, and rap, allowing him to transform all of it into a mesh of stylish tunes, collaborating with anticipated rappers (Kid Cudi, T.I., Ludacris, Big K.R.I.T., A$AP Rocky) and some unusual, unconventional artists (Wavves, Little Dragon, Phantogram). Is all of this because of Big Boi’s venture into indie rock and electronic music while he performed alongside some of those kinds of acts during music festivals? Is this change of music just a new way of engaging the listener or an artistic ambition? It may never really be proven. But, one thing’s for sure: There’s definitely a divide of likability in Big Boi’s eclectic mix. Nevertheless, Big Boi hasn’t completely abandoned his funk-induced Southern hip hop and Detroit basslines. Songs, such as the aforementioned “In The A,” which features fellow Atlanta rappers T.I. and Ludacris, the soulful ballad “The Thickets,” and the head-bopping “Gossip” go back to Big Boi’s old, beloved styles. As for the rest of the eccentric and sophisticated rap record, it’s hard to spot any appealing song with the blend of indie rock, electronic, and R&B/soul. Rapper B.o.B. and indie punk group Wavves are both unique and cherished in their own career, but on “Shoes for Running,” they don’t offer the same spunk or spice they provide in their own work. “Objectum Sexuality” features electro-pop band Phantogram, whose engrossing beats and mixing behind Big Boi’s effervescent rapping make the funky jingle an acceptable choice for listening to Vicious Lies. Phantogram, oddly enough, is also featured on the electronic-induced “CPU” and the groovy “Lines” with A$AP Rocky, marking an interesting yet unlikely collaboration with Big Boi, considering their differences in music genres. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much anything new and exciting Big Boi has to offer on his second album, the rest of the songs gradually dissolving throughout. This demonstrates the inconsistency on Big Boi’s compilation of new material, being that songs like the slow and dull “Thom Pettie,” the obnoxiously sluggish “Raspberries,” and the tiresome album closer “Descending” just bring the whole album down to the ground.
Despite Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors‘ drawbacks, it’s hard not to appreciate Big Boi’s determination in bringing music genres together. But with that in mind, he should be aware of the ultimate discomfort he might get from fans and critics, unless he were to somehow compile everything perfectly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Big Boi’s second album is somewhat of an artistic mess and disappointment, coming back from his excellent debut. Oh well, we’ll just have to wait for another miracle brought on by the unpredictable Big Boi.