Dungeon Family Values: Big Boi on Flying Solo While Staying Stankonia
With all the legendary music that has come out of Stankonia Studios, you'd expect for it to be hidden deep in the woods surrounded by cartoon gnomes with music notes floating out of the chimney. Instead, the studio is one of many non-descript buildings in a part of Atlanta, located near a bunch of others. But inside, when your eyes set upon all the photos decorating the walls, you realize that you are walking on hallowed ground.
Today (December 11), Big Boi releases his second solo album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, recorded entirely inside Stankonia Studios. The album is already being critically acclaimed, lauded for its production and its features. Features are a big part of Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors; the album is heavy with guest appearances, each with their own style which brings out Big Boi’s strength in collaboration, causing him to stretch himself lyrically and with his delivery.
The album is also being talked about for its one distinct absence. Andre 3000 is not featured on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, and as always with Outkast, there is backlash amongst the fans who want things to remain as they always have - with Dre and Big doing music, together. But, as with Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty before it, this new album does not symbolize the end of Outkast, but its natural evolution.
AllHipHop.com sat down with Big Boi at Stankonia Studios during the Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors listening party to talk about his creative process, his new album,and the evolution of Outkast.
AllHipHop.com: The mumbles that I’m hearing are that this is Hip-Hop album of the year.
Big Boi: Hey, that’s good. That’s real good. It’s some good music that came out this year.
AllHipHop.com: It’s a new and really interesting direction for you. From the singles and the buzz music that you’re dropping, how did that come about?
Big Boi: It’s just all an experimentation process. My approach to making records is the same as when me and Dre are together making music, making that Frankenfunk, that Frankenstein, stitching together different sounds, melodies, whatever, and when you hit that groove, you just go with that record. Spending time in the lab, this is my house right here; this is where I’ve been at, the vibes are incredible. Ain’t no fishtanks, no video games, no pool tables. Ain’t nothing but the funk coming out of here. We come here to work. My approach has really been, ‘Whatever happens, happens,’ Organically created, never genetically modified. Period.
AllHipHop.com: Did the current climate of the industry, or even just the way the world is right now influence you to say, 'You know what, I’m gonna do my thing, my way?'
Big Boi: I’ve always been that way. I mean it’s Outkast. The bloodline is to never really pay attention to what the mainstream is doing and just do you. And as long as you’re true to your art, and you can express that truth through music, then I think the people are gonna dig it. And if they dig it, and they like it, then it’s alright. ‘Cuz I thought that sh*t was jamming when I made it. [laughter]
AllHipHop.com: This summer, you did the BET Music Matters during A3C - they had a Dungeon Family reunion. You’re always a champion of the Outkast brand, the Dungeon Family brand, Stankonia. Tell us why that is…
Big Boi: I’m a team player, man. It’s tattooed on my skin. It’s Dungeon Family for life. We’ve laid so much foundation in the music that we’ve been doing. And to still be doing it at the same level, or a higher level than we did, really just proves to me like what my mom said, “Son, this is what you were put here to do.” It’s a blessing, and I don’t take that lightly. It’s not just for monetary reasons. It’s really because I’m having fun. You can tell I’m having fun making the music, and that’s what it’s about, living a fulfilling life. That’s really what it boils down to.
AllHipHop.com: What can you say about Outkast? And the state of the group?
Big Boi: That we’re alive and well, and we are doing great. I talk to my buddy. Just talked to him this morning. A lot of people don’t understand that that’s my brother. We’ve been doing music together, but we are friends and brothers before any of this sh*t. Just because we’re not making songs together, or if he’s not on my record, or if he’s doing features with XYZ… we done did so many songs together, I can do some sh*t on my own, by myself without it being a qualm. I think just to please the fans, we’ll do it. But his whole perspective is ‘I want these muthaf*ckas to see how dope you are.' Ain’t nothing changed, as long as the music is banging. This album is solely, fully, all the way BIG.
AllHipHop.com: With all the talk that comes out, and it seems like it’s something new every day...I work for AllHipHop. We gotta drop rumors; that’s part of what we do [laughter]. Was that part of the inspiration behind the title?
Big Boi: A little bit. It actually came from my grandmother. It was the name, the title of my grandmother’s book, and she passed away last year around this time. She raised me; she was like my mom, and I was her first grandchild. The book was Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. She was gon’ tell the truth; she was finna f*ck everybody family up. She was gon’ tell where all the bodies was buried at, where the extra chirren' was, everything, you feel me? It’s always about searching for the truth. With it being the information age, you can find out anything you want to at the touch of a button - whether it be about world history, politics, fitness, health, whatever. You can find real facts on real things. The flip side of that is, with social media, you can write something and it not be true, and it just spread like wildfire. So, you always have to be searching for yourself.
Big Boi's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors debuts today (December 11). The album features appearances by Sleepy Brown, T.I., Kid Cudi, Little Dragon, A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T., and more.
Follow Big Boi on Twitter (@BigBoi) and on Instagram (@therealbigboi).