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DJBooth Album Review
It was largely assumed that Outkast’s relentlessly creative, impossibly funky and always innovative style could be primarily attributed to Andre 3000, with Big’s more street-level style keeping the music at least tenuously tethered to Earth, but Big Boi’s exquisitely titled, “official” solo album (Speakerboxx was his de facto solo debut) reveals that Antwan Andre Patton deserves at least half the credit. Like an Outkast album, Son of Chico Dusty sounds like absolutely nothing else ever made. It’s a simultaneously grinding and spacey affair that could only be the creation of one man: Big Boi/Sir Lucious Left Foot/Daddy Fat Sax/Billy Ocean/Francis the Savannah Chitlin' Pimp/etc., etc., etc.
Every truly elite album needs at least a few “oh s**!” moments - moments so dope all you can do is nod your head and mutter “oh s**t” - and Chico Dusty’s oh s**ttiest track is without a doubt General Patton. Patton’s beat is so huge it’d be an insult to merely call it a banger, and Big absolutely tears the track apart. There aren’t many emcees who could rise above a beat this big, but Antwan “General” Patton is one of them. I’d also put the skittering Your DJ Ain’t No DJ, featuring a Yelawolf guest verse and one of the better hooks in the minute, and the unbelievably catchy ode to contraceptives Back Up Plan in this category. If you can listen to any of these songs and not feel an overwhelming need to turn up the volume, I don’t know what to say. Are you sure you love hip-hop?
(Side note: Chico Dusty continues Kast’s tradition of actually funny skits. 95% of all hip-hop skits are terrible, but Stankonia’s Kim & Cookie is a classic amongst classics and both Ain’t No DJ and General Patton end with legitimately hilarious skits. Come on; the David Blaine? Hilarity.)
Outkast not only made insanely creative music, they made insanely creative music that dominated the charts, and Big shows similar tendencies on Chico Dusty, especially on Shutterbug. Driven by a coolly funky bass line and Big’s deeply stylized rhymes, Shutterbug won’t be a Ms. Jackson-level smash, but it deserves to be a hit. Maybe all it’s missing is a 3 Stacks verse….which we might have actually got on Lookin for Ya, but Andre's label Jive unfortunately blocked the release of the track. He may not be 3000, but a T.I. guest verse isn’t exactly settling, and his presence on the shaking Tangerine may just be enough to propel the smoky joint into Billboard territory (unless the censors figure out the oral sex references). These aren’t “radio” songs in the usual sense. To paraphrase American Bandstand, they have a beat and you can dance to them, but the production’s infinitely more complex than you’re usual radio offering, they never mention swag, and they don’t feature a Gucci Mane guest verse. What’s that? Shine Blockas? Ok, you got me there, but maybe the rest of the album’s so good I don’t care, or maybe I’m becoming acclimatized to Mr. Mane, but I even kind of dig the Gucci-assisted Blockas. If this is the album’s weakest track, Son of Chico Dusty’s pretty damn strong.
Of course these broad categories – radio tracks, “oh s**t” tracks” - are an oversimplification. There’s really no easy label to stick on the quasi-ballad Be Still, and Fo Yo Sorrows so completely blends hip-hop and funk it’s impossible to tell where on genre begins and the other ends, and that willingness to push boundaries is Big Boi’s truest accomplishment. Ultimately, all this was a long way of saying that, since Thank Me Later was good but not great, and I didn’t enjoy Recovery nearly as much as the rest of the world (thanks for the hate mail everyone), Son of Chico Dusty is my pick for album of the year so far. To quote the man himself: “I’m on another planet…and you’re just fly.” Indeed Big Boi. Indeed.
DJBooth Rating - 4.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Jul 06, 2010
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