Review by Dom Mahoney (@DomMahoney)
I’ve always been a big fan of OutKast. Their unconventional ear for beats, dueling rhyme-styles, and wide appeal have made them a common ground for fans of any music genre. In 2012, we are only so often blessed with the occasional feature from Andre 3000, and 3-stacks’ verses always deliver. It seems these days that Andre 3000 has chosen to focus more on his acting and advertising campaigns, whereas Big Boi has concentrated his efforts into two full-length albums.
2010’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty was Patton’s debut solo album, and in my opinion, sorely missed the partnership with Andre 3000. Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors continues this disappointing trend, with the standout tracks showing how dependent Big Boi is on stellar features to create a memorable song. Big Boi likes to show this void early and often, where he delivers one quick verse, and lets the chorus and beat-changes comprise the remainder of the song. he did the same thing on Sir Luscious Left Foot, making me wonder how short this already short album would be, without the plethora of features. All of the main staples are here. Sleepy Brown delivers a great hook and background vocals on “The Thickets” – which offers a misleading, soulful intro to an otherwise synthy-electro hop focused album. Killer Mike appears late in the album as well, but is too late to save “Thom Petty” – which ends up being one of the more disappointing tracks on VLADR.
- “Ascending” is your average “waste-of-a-track-number” intro, as Big Boi introduces himself and welcomes the listener to the album. “The Thickets”, as I said before, brings in the ever-present OutKast affiliate Sleepy Brown, who is a welcome addition to this beat. Big Boi lays down the true intro to this album, and sets expectations high. Production is nice here.
- “Apple of My Eye” has some Some obligatory fast-paced rap that OutKast has come to be known for. (Kast-Paced? alright, I’ll leave now) – Often times this is where Big Boi shows his strengths, dividing up his bars with the same great flow he’s always used, warranting a few more listens to figure out what this track is truly about.
- “Objectum Sexuality” is a joint about love and loss, produced by the electronic duo, “Phantogram”. These two appear frequently on VLADR, and coincidentally, aid in delivering some of VLADR’s biggest standouts. It seems that Big Boi tries to get his “808s and Heartbreak” on here, and as a warning – if you’re not listening to this album in order, the outro to this track will not make any sense.
- “In the A” features T.I. and Ludacris. I felt like I already knew what this was going to sound like before the track came on – and GOD am I glad to be right. The bass is bordering on criminal here, feeding the same synthy, over-bassed tracks we’ve come to love and expect from T.I. and Ludacris. It took this track for me to realize how similar Big Boi and T.I.’s flows can be at times, and they pair nicely together.. Pause. This beat is borderline diabolical, and Ludacris’ predictable love-them-or-hate-them punchlines were also very welcome. I feel like this album needed at least one of these super-ignorant ATL joints.. And yet again the outro of this track baffles the fuck out of me.
- “She Hates Me” – Oh boy, Kid Cudi. I feel like the title of this track should be read aloud in a sighing voice, like: “She haaates me”.. I felt borderline depressed even pressing play on this one. Alright here we go.. Not expecting much, expecting to delete this tr- yep. It’s gone. I almost cant even remember if there was any rapping over this, it was a nice beat to nap to, and to be honest I don’t know what the fuck I just listened to. It’s probably a good thing that I’ll have forgotten all about it by the time I hit the next paragraph.
- “CPU” – The name seems apt for the type of instrumental here, more electro-pop and more Phantogram, which is completely welcome as far as I’m concerned. Big Boi’s short verses break up the breathy hooks with the dangling synth in the background, while the electronic bass buzzes in the forefront. I’m about to cop a Phantogram album after hearing this.
- “Thom Petty” – I absolutely hated the hook on this (“Tom Petty that ho”). The synth was way too much for me here, and even if the bars were nice on it, they didn’t mesh well with the beat. The only reason why I listened to this all the way through was to hear Killer Mike, but even he couldn’t save this track.
- “Mama Told Me” is one of the singles off of VLADR, and sounds like some 80s keytar-pop shit. If you don’t like the sound of that, you wont like this track. Dunno where Kelly Rowland’s been at for the past few years, but she got her Katy Perry on here with this simple ass hook, and I’m not a fan.
- “Lines” – A$AP Rocky and Phantogram bless this track. Phantogram yet again brings phenomenal production and a hauntingly great hook, and I’ve been waiting for an A$AP Rocky and Big Boi collaboration for a bit. This is probably one of my favorites on the album so far.
- “Shoes For Running” – I love the drums on this one, but I’ve never been a big fan of BoB. The hook sounds like some alt-pop-rock shit you’d hear seeping through the walls of an American Eagle or something, but then the beat morphs and Big Boi goes in hard – this is definitely an unconventional track, but that’s where Big Boi shines the most.
- “Raspberries” – Probably the oddest track on the album. Big Boi couldn’t have just paid Sleepy Brown 10 bucks to throw a hook on this instead? I don’t get it.
- “Tremendous Damage” Is some reflective shit. I dig the concept, Big Boi is one of the more seasoned veterans in hip-hop today, and reflects on his aging career, as well as where he’s come from. Bosko delivers a great hook here.
- “Descending” – Some acoustic guitars lace this trip-hop inspired beat. I almost hate this beat as much as I hate the term “trip-hop”.
- “Higher Res” – No.
- “Gossip” – I HAVE BEEN WAITING ALL ALBUM TO HEAR THIS. I absolutely love Big KRIT, his “Return of 4eva” being probably my favorite body of music in 2011… Nothing needs to be explained here, Bun B, Big KRIT, and Big Boi all deliver big time. I wish the entire album was like this – as the severe identity crisis murders this album’s consistency. Bun B is arguably one of the most versatile emcees, and by that I mean his flow just works, on everything. He doesn’t need to morph his style or scheme in any way for any of his 1000 features per-year, it just works. This track makes me sad for what the album could have been, if every track had this same energy.
- “She Said OK” is some sexy, raunchy, OutKast shit. The smooth electro-RnB beat betrays the concept, which is pretty fun.. But Patton is at home in this element for sure. This is, however, a disappointing outro for this album, and it leaves me wishing that “Gossip” switched places with it.
Overall, this album is a mixed bag of features, production, and concepts. It’s one of those mixed bags that you used to get at a kid’s birthday party that you were friends with, but his shitty party favors always troubled your friendship. Occasionally, you’d get some gems in that bag, a piece of candy that you liked or something, but overall the package came up lacking.
Final Rating: 7/17 Tracks Kept.