Big Boi Is Not Too Artsy

After endless clashes and delays, the OutKast rapper's triumphant solo album emerges at last

You say "Sumthin's Gotta Give" was tied specifically to the election—two years later, how do you think Obama's doing? Umm . . . umm . . . about the same. Things are about the same. Everything's the same.

Which is a bad thing, obviously, in some ways. Right. Yeah.

So, just to clarify: André isn't on this record because Jive is opposed to him being on the record? Yes. He appears on the record as a producer, but the songs that we cut, like "Lookin' for You"—Jive wouldn't let him be on the album, which, to me, is a damper for the OutKast fans. But to them, they're looking more on the business side. They didn't want any songs that had both of us to appear on my record. It's just red tape and label politricks—that's what's fucking music up today, stuff like that.

"It's like being on a real label again."
Courtesy Def Jam
"It's like being on a real label again."

So is OutKast under contract with Jive? Or how does that even work? Yes, yes. We're still under contract with Jive as OutKast. We are signed to Jive as OutKast. Dre's over there as a solo artist, and I have a three-album deal with Def Jam, so thank God for that.

Just bottom line: What are the chances of a full OutKast record, percentage-wise, in the next five years? Definitely, that's the plan, to make an OutKast record. After I do my solo and Dre does his solo, we're going to do an OutKast record, but there are going to have to be some changes over at Jive. There's gotta be some respect for the music.

You consistently have some of the best nicknames in hip-hop, most of which are here as song titles: "General Patton," "Daddy Fat Sax," even "Lucious Left Foot." Where do you get them? Are yours self-anointed? Yes, most definitely. Just being out on the road throughout the years, me and Dre just kind of fuckin' around on the bus and the hotels and stuff, we just call ourselves different names to describe, I guess, different personalities, different emotions, different ways of feeling that particular day. Lucious Left Foot is actually like my Luke-Skywalker-becoming-a-Jedi persona. Like, I'm just really serious about my craft, I've mastered it, and I'm very skilled at it, and I take pride in making this music.

There are guests on nearly every track here. . . . Do you work better when you have people to play off? I can't listen to a whole album with just my voice on it—I get bored. So I bring somebody in to break it up a little bit, to add flavor. I'm used to being in a group anyway. I just couldn't listen to a whole album of just my voice. I couldn't, not me. So I bring other artists into my world, and we funk it out.

Is George Clinton, in person, as completely spaced out as most people assume he would be? Yup, he's out of this world. He's the grandfather of funk, and he lives up to it. Very cool guy. I had a chance to work with him back on the song "Synthesizer," and ever since then, he's just been really cool. When I called him to do "For Your Sorrows," he was really crunk about doing it, and he laid it down. Very animated. Can't get more funky than George.

It's always surprising to hear you address haters or enemies on your tracks. . . . I would think everyone universally reveres you. Is there still something you have left to prove, or people to prove it to? No, I don't have nothing to prove to nobody. But there's haters all around the world. My thing is that I just let it be known that I'm not to be fucked with, period, and they know that. There's always going to be those that try to test. But before they even get to that point, you gotta let them know that there ain't nothin' happening.

What do you think of what's happened in hip-hop, even in the time you've been making this record? What do you think of Drake? It's cool, it's cool. He can sing. Yeah.

What do you have planned for after this record? Is it straight to OutKast, or is there something else? Yeah, the OutKast record, and my new record as well, the Daddy Fat Sax album, is next: Daddy Fat Sax: Soul Funk Crusader.

And how far into that are you? Maybe about six songs into it. Once you're in the zone and you're recording, you kind of, like, stay in the zone. I like to try to get all of my ideas down. So at the same time that I'm working on the OutKast material, I'll be working on that, too.

Well, it's probably too early to put a release date on that. Yeah, you know how people get when you give them the date early. They get antsy, waiting on that shit like tomorrow. I'm gonna let them soak this one up for a minute and discover some Lucious Left Foot, but at the same time—just keeping people up with my passion of making music and just really having fun with my craft. It's fun to discover that ultimate groove, to write the ultimate lyric and just have fun with music. That's what it's all about.

So you feel like you're still getting better? Oh, hell yeah. Oh, hell yeah. That's my curse: trying to outdo the last verse that I burst—that's my curse. Challenging yourself to do better. As we all should.

rharvilla@villagevoice.com

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