EW talked to the OutKast-famed rapper about filling the big (left) shoes of his critically acclaimed 2010 solo debut Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, his response to hearing André 3000 apologize to him in T.I.’s recent “Sorry”, and how the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan influenced Vicious Lies‘ first track.
How would you describe the album’s overall sound, especially as it compares to Sir Lucious Left Foot?
Big Boi: It’s another great adventure. It’s electr0-fying, electro funk. Some of the coldest music on the planet earth. Some of the coldest music the earth has ever heard. I’m very happy and proud to have finished it.
What were some of your musical inspirations for this album?
I kind of pretty much listen to everything. So everything plays a part into the whole recording process. I’ve got like maybe 13,000 songs on my iPod — everything ranging from Neil Young, Bob Marley, Kate Bush, the Eurythmics, A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A., everything. I listen to all types of music so I’m influenced by everything.
Can you tell me a little bit about your creative process? Do you just find inspiration from, like you said, listening to music or do you try to set aside time daily to write songs?
It’s many different ways. It can start from a thought. If I want to speak on a certain topic, I can hear a certain groove because I’m also a producer. I co-produce every record on the album. It could start many ways. A lot of it comes from ridin’ in the car and listening to beasts and music and stuff like that.
At what point in the album’s development process did the single ”Mama Told Me” get written and recorded?
That’s the first song I recorded for this record. That happened — I mean, the first song I put vocals on — the same day as the earthquake in Japan with the tsunami. So I could remember seeing that on the screen while I was kind of writing the music. … It definitely influenced me to write the record. I start the song up, “As the world shakes unharmed/Twan, calm in the middle of the storm bomb/ Flow tsunami, ring the alarm/ Big Boi for dummies come and get some.”
Can you tell me a little bit about how some of your collaboratiosn came about — like with Kelly Rowland, T.I., Ludacris, Kid Cudi, and B.o.B?
Being in a group for so long, I don’t want to hear a whole album of my own voice. So I kind of use the guest artist appearances as extra ingredients to this funk gumbo that I call an album. I toured for like 18 month for the Sir Lucious Left Foot record and I did a lot of festivals. So the artists like Little Dragon and Phantogram are guys I’ve been on tour with. We kind of linked up, I invited them back to the studio to Stankonia. We camped out for seven days and made some great music.
Were there artists who approached you for collaborations or do you usually seek them?
With Kid Cudi, we did a show together in Arkansas. We were both like, “Man, we need to get in the lab together.” A couple of weeks later, I was in L.A. recording at Frank Zappa’s studio. I invited Kid Kudi to come in and he came in and he recorded his part for the song ”She Hates Me” before he went out to the club. It was really cool.
What are some of your favorite tracks on the album?
I think my favorite track is “Descending.” It’s a duet I do with Yukimi from Little Dragon. It’s basically like mourning for my loved ones that have passed away. It’s a lot of heartfelt emotion in that record so it’s real dear to my heart.I love every last one of them, but that one’s real personal to me. It’s the most personal record on the album. Just really kind of just letting my feelings just loose on the record. It’s pure emotion.
What was your reaction to hearing André 3000′s contribution ["This the type of s— that'll make you call your rap partner/and say I'm sorry I'm awkward/ my fault for f---ing up the tour"] to T.I.’s ”Sorry.”
I mean, I thought it was cool. T.I. played it for me when we were recording the song ”In the A” at Stankonia. I thought it was cool. And then [André] played it for me actually a couple of months ago when he came by my house. I mean, I though it was dope. It’s Jedi rap s— all day, man. It’s what we do.
So did he actually call and say, “I’m sorry I’m awkward”?
No, but I guess it was a means of therapy for him. Because I know me, when I want to get stuff out that’s inside of me, I go and I record. It was honorable for him to let loose his feelings like that in the public eye.
Are there any plans for collaborations with him in the future or a mini OutKast reunion?
Yeah, when it’s ready, ‘yall will know. [Laughs]
Do you have any plans yet for your following album or are you going to take a break after Vicious Lies is released?
No, I’m not taking a break at all. I’m going to pour this all into my next record.I can say it’s going to be cold-blooded.
Could that possibly be the title?
No, that’s not the title, but I know it’s going to be cold though. It’s going to be cold-blooded.