Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

After years of listening to music, I’ve surmised there are two kinds of great albums: there are ones that are great because they’re important and there are those that are great because they’re just plain good. Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, which is already being forgotten thanks to a certain Chicago MC, is one of the later. Lyrically, it doesn’t deal in drug game theatrics like Ghostface or Clipse nor does it find Big Boi wallowing in his doubts and inhibitions; instead, the album is gloriously mindless, easily the funnest album I’ve heard all year. If you could pin it into any of the hip hop sub-genres, it’d be placed along with the likes of Dr. Octagonecologyst, a sex rap boast-fest that can sometimes get about as weird as hip hop gets. Most people make the mistake of assuming that 3000 was the oddball in Outkast; Big Boi and the production on Left Foot are filled to the brim with masterful oddities.

As the other great hip hop album of the year (despite being months earlier than Fantasy), Left Foot represents a foil to Kanye’s dead serious hedonism, with the album’s focus being clearly on proving that after almost two decades, Big Boi is still a master of his genre and knows how to show it while having a great time. Only a brief foray into a couple of slow jams for the mid-section slow down the album which is restless in it’s exploration of every corner of contemporary hip hop you could possibly investigate. Theres room for the Dirty South marching band jam “General Patton”, the fast-rap bass and percussion brilliance of “You Ain’t No DJ” which features the furiously quick-witted Yelawolf (seriously, his appearance may be the best verse I’ve heard this year), and even the club banger “Shutterbug”.

Speaking of club hits, the album is filled with top shelf material; some albums work better as a whole despite weaker portions, but Left Foot lacks lulls and becomes a rare example of an album that works both as a whole and as a pick-and-choose, song-by-song cherry picker. The only potential problem with the album are the occasional skits, which are still funny enough to endear them to most listeners. If anything, they only bother a bit because they interrupt the stellar material. It’s an odd feeling as a critic to find no particular problem with the album; after all, as a critic, I’m supposed to criticize, but honestly, I’ve had so much fun listening to this album that I can’t think of anything I’d change about it.

The production of the album is stellar, with most songs being mid to high tempo affairs that go perfectly with the vicious quick witticisms of Patton and his crew of terrific guests like the previously mentioned Yelawolf as well as Sleepy Brown on the funky “Turns Me On” and Gucci Mane on the sparkling “Shine Blockas”. The bass is pronounced and hits with a vicious flair on songs like opener “Daddy Fat Sax” but also relaxes to hold together soulful material like “Shine Blockas” and “Be Still”. The percussion and surrounding samples are about as creative as they come, with many of the beats reminding me of Hell Hath No Fury; the album finds room for a marching band, 80’s funk synths, hip hop drum machine drills, chorus lines of gangsters, accordions, and even a fucking sitar.

Although, here comes the rough part: how does the album compare to Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? It’s a tough question, maybe even a useless one, but one that will be asked anyways. Both are examples of maximal production perfectionism with a ton of terrific guest spots, but what separates them are the men at the middle of each work. Kanye is a symbol of simultaneous endearment and scorn; sure, he raps about insecurity and being hated, but he also finds time to boast about unreal amounts of power and wealth that he actually does have. He’s a hedonist in every sense of the word, but an interesting one nonetheless. As said earlier, Big Boi is a foil to Kanye’s straight-faced sybiratism, his tongue firmly planted in his cheek as he raps about his wealth, ability, and sexual prowess. While other older MCs may focus on late-career cynicism or complain about getting older, Big Boi sounds as virile as he did in his early Outkast days.

Technicality-wise, Big Boi is not just better than Kanye as a rapper, he’s on a completely different level. It’s not just his precise tongue work despite his ludicrous speed, it’s that his talents are multi-faceted; he doesn’t fill songs with “huh” grunts when he has nothing better to say like West does on MBDTF nor does he ever get out-classed by his guests despite their keen ability as well. Overall, Big Boi’s ability as a rapper is noticeable and actually adds to the experience of the album; technicality doesn’t equate to quality, but when comparing him to West, who’s albums are usually riddled nicks and dents stemming from his inadequacies as a rapper, Left Foot doesn’t have this problem. Apart from that, the album doesn’t really have any real problems unlike Fantasy, which has a couple examples of “meh” songs (“So Appalled” can get tedious and “Blame Game” is just plain torturous after the double-hitter of “Devil In A New Dress” and “Hell Of A Life”).

More evidence of the influence of West’s album than any type of weakness of Big Boi’s first solo effort, Fantasy has found two paragraphs in a review that’s not even about it. However, it’s something I need to bring up because I’m about to make a pretty bold claim: Sir Luscious Left Foot, more so than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is the best hip hop album of the year. I think Left Foot is a better album. As I first stated in the beginning of this arduous article, there are two kinds of great albums, important ones and just plain good ones. In a rare occasion, I think that while Fantasy will be remembered as the most important album of the year, Left Foot is the superior album; a ubiquitous, thrilling, and terrific album from a underrated legend that wastes no time with exercises in arena theatrics or self-reflective passages. It took a few years and numerous hiccups, but Big Boi finally gets to present Sir Lucious Left Foot; and what an album it is.

by Trevor “Nephew of Chico Dirty” Johnson

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1 Comment

  1. 11/23/10: New Review! « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot – Son of Chico Dusty Review by Trevor Johnson LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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