Canine breeder, ballet composer, record producer and playable character in an Xbox fighting game —Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton wears many hats. But he’s best known as the down-to-earth half of OutKast, the genre-defining Southern hip-hop act that sent Polaroid stock soaring (thanks to the lyric ‘shake it like a Polaroid picture’ from the duo’s hit track ‘Hey Ya’).
For a while it seemed as if Big Boi was in a game of chicken with Missy Elliott to see who could postpone their new record the longest. Thankfully, our wait is over: the 35-year-old’s just-released debut solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son of Chico Dusty, is named after one of his many pseudonyms. We rang him up in Atlanta to find out what took so long and where OutKast is headed next.
How are things in Georgia?
Enjoying it, enjoying it. Just spreading word on the album, having fun, man. Glad this thing is about to come out.
Why is it always such an eternal wait for hip-hop albums?
My situation is that Jive Records didn’t believe in my music. ‘Shutterbug’ [the single] has been done for almost three years now. They didn’t think…it was like, ‘I don’t hear any singles.’ These are the same guys who told me to go in and make my own version of Lil Wayne’s ‘Lollipop’, which, by the way, I love. But how can you tell me to go in and copy somebody else?
For them to doubt you seems rather insane. You’ve sold millions and millions of albums.
Right. Yeah, but I’m just glad to be on Def Jam with L.A. Reid. He knows what’s going on.
What label is OutKast on now?
OutKast is still on Jive, which is the funny thing about it. Jive Records was trying to block the songs that me and Dre [André Benjamin, a.k.a. André 3000 of OutKast] recorded for my album. They won’t let me put them on my album. How stupid is that?
You sample opera on your new song ‘General Patton.’ Are you a fan of the opera?
You know, anything is possible. When we put the beat together, it sounded so hard. Like it needed some gladiator music. Being an MC is all about just going for the throat.
You’re already working on another solo album. Why so quick?
Because I’m always working. I’m right in the zone. I’m waiting on Dre to finish his [solo] record so we can jump into the OutKast album. So I’ll start recording parts of the OutKast record as well as working on my next album at the same time. It’’s gonna be called Daddy Fat Sax: Soul Funk Crusader. Yeah, you got the hot scoop here first, baby!
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below sold more than 10 million copies. Do you feel pressure to live up to that level of success?
Just as long as the people can dig, man, you know what I’m sayin’?…You don’t gauge success by how much it sells in this day and age, because you might get three million downloads, so you’ll never really know the real number.
You raise pit bulls at your kennel, Pitfalls. I get a kick out of the dogs’ names. Crown Royal. Dragonfly Jones. Do you name them?
Me and my brothers. We’ve sold dogs to Jay-Z, Serena Williams, Roy Jones Jr., 50 Cent, Usher, Jermaine Dupree –everybody, man. I’m gone so much, it’s basically my brothers running things.
What was it about ‘Halle Berry’ that made you name her Halle Berry?
Because her face was all pretty and her eyes were glowing, you know what I’m saying? She just had a really cute face.
How do you pull off those guest verses live?
On all these songs I have some verses, so it’s still like a full song. There are so many songs that I go through within an hour, like, it’s not enough time to do all the complete records.
So you perform OutKast material.
Oh, yeah. Oh, hell yeah… They’ll throw eggs at me if I don’t!
Big Boi’s debut solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son of Chico Dusty is out now.