Last night, Outkast hero Big Boi previewed selections from Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, the follow-up to 2010's critically-revered Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. As fans and press filled Converse's Rubber Tracks studio in Williamsburg, Sir Lucious played over the venue's PA; it then played again as they sipped flavored vodka cocktails. Eventually, DJ Cut Master Swift took the decks, and apologized: "I know they been playing that Lucious Left Foot over and over and over and over and over and over and over." He introduced a guitarist in drummer, both in Big Boi hoodies, and led them through a selection of Outkast hits: "Bust," "ATLiens," "Rosa Parks." Swift traded fours with the drummer over "B.O.B." A metal chair, painted purple, stood empty near the lip of the stage; one started getting the feeling of being Eastwooded. "Enough of this, where the fuck Big Boi at?" Cut Master Swift asked. A label flack held up five fingers. "Let's freestyle it," Swift announced, leading the band into "Spottieottiedopalicious." The dreadlocked guitar player sang in falsetto: "I'm from the other side of town." Another handler handed the DJ a CD to play, and took the microphone to introduce the "Grammy award-winning, diamond-selling" rapper. "It's gonna be popping."
Finally, Big Boi ran out to a barrage of camera flashes and a double-time soul beat, an entrance that called to mind James Brown. Jogging in place and flapping his camouflage-clad arms, he gave off the impression of a G.I. Joe figure manipulated by unseen forces. Unlike, say, his Atlanta compatriot Gucci Mane, Big Boi always gives off the impression of being right on the beat, more mechanical than conversational. He introduced the first song as "Apple of My Eye" and launched into another called "CPU," with a Lil B-style shoutout to "the age of information." He ran through the Kelly Rowland collab "Mama Told Me," (originally recorded with Little Dragon), then retired to the back of the stage to consult with Cut Master Swift and a woman in a red scarf. Eventually they figured out how to play the recently-released A$AP Rock/Phantogram showcase "Lines." Big Boi dragged the empty chair to a position in front of the turntables, where he bobbed his head and adjusted his sunglasses for the rest of the night, occasionally mouthing a lyric or yelling a "yeah" into the microphone. Nothing was as out-there as Sir Lucious Left Foot's "Tangerine" or "Shutterbugg," but even those songs took a while to sink in when they were released; it's hard to imagine Big Boi fans being disappointed by the new album. "In the A," an exercise in Atlanta mythology with compatriots T.I. and Ludacris, featured syncopated Lex Luger-style orchestra stabs; "don't get stunned like the crocodile hunter," warned Ludacris. "She Hates Me," an emo-rap exercise with Kid Cudi, made use of mournful organ chords. After more technical difficulties ("I got a DJ with slow hands" joked Big Boi), they ran through the album opener, with boasts of being "a handsome-ass nigga since my mama wiped my bottom" and instructions to "Shazam me and then you Google Dungeon Family." Big Boi thanked the crowd for coming out to hear the record "before you buy it or illegally download it." "It's my birthday, can I get a picture with you?" yelled out a young woman from the front. "Yeah, for sure."
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors is out December 11 on Def Jam. Listen to "Lines" here.