During "Daddy Fat Sax," the first proper song of the absurdly titled, wildly enjoyable new album from OutKast's Big Boi, he sets the tenor by snarling, "I write knockout songs / You spit punch lines for money." Not content to just lyrically assault the current crop of rappers-for-hire—one of the album's major themes—Big Boi peppers the album with inimitable live and sampled funk, soul, and hip-hop.
Whether it is prurient raps by T.I. on the vamping sex-jam "Tangerine," or emotionally wrought singing by Jamie Foxx on the dramatic "Hustle Blood," or naturally far-out exchanges from George Clinton and Too $hort on the plinking "Fo Yo Sorrows," Big Boi gets plenty of mileage from his guests.
Still, Big Boi is the album's star. Mixing his breakneck raps over the stuttering rhythms and streaky synth blasts of "Shutterbugg," or around the poignant guitar-brass breaks of "Back Up Plan," Big Boi proves nearly peerless in hip-hop. It's a rich album, and there is plenty to explore, from the deliriously pleasurable opera samples of the militant "General Patton"—which sadly squanders its thrilling start due to a lack of ideas—to the genuinely affecting, melancholy electronics of "Shine Blockas."
The most noticeable absence, obviously, is that of OutKast's other half, André 3000, who was prevented from appearing due to label disputes; his tinny, dancehall production on "You Ain't No DJ" is small consolation.
Until that proper OutKast reunion, we know that Big Boi will deliver the goods.