Entertainment Entertainment Music

Q&A: Big Boi

On record, Big Boi doesn't hold anything back. The Outkast rapper's latest solo venture, "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors," is filled with tongue-twisting rhymes that expound on everything from his father's death ("Tremendous Damage") to the challenges of married life ("She Hates Me").

In interviews, however, Big Boi, born Antwan Patton 38 years ago, can be tight-lipped and reticent, wary of delivering any sound bite that can be misinterpreted, misconstrued or twisted to serve some other means--particularly when it comes to any talk of reuniting with longtime Outkast partner Andre 3000.

"I don't answer Outkast questions because [the media] takes my words out of context and run 'em any way they want to," said the Georgia-born MC by phone. "That's why I be like, 'Next question.' They'll just try to sensationalize anything. It's crazy."

The rapper was talking about an interview where he was reported to have said Outkast couldn't reunite now because the music would be too advanced for anyone to understand--a statement, he said, was taken out of context.

"Assuming those had been your words," I asked him, "wouldn't that be the perfect reason to reunite now? Then at least our children's children could have an Outkast album that speaks to them, right?"

"For sure, for sure," said the rapper, and laughed. "I dig it."

The ice broken, Big Boi opened up about the driving force behind his work, the most important lesson he learned from his late father and why his children still make the best A&R representatives.

On this new record, you have songs that touch on your father's death and the ups and downs of married life. Why did you decide to drop your guard a bit more this time around?

It's a form of healing for me. I guess it's therapeutic to get things off your chest. I know there are lots of other people going through the same things, and they might be able to relate to it. These are real feelings and emotions, and that's what music is supposed to evoke.

What's one thing you learned from your father that you hope to pass on to your own children?

To really find a sense of inner peace. Once you have that inner peace, you can achieve whatever you want.

You initially envisioned the album as a heavy funk exploration. Why'd you opt to take a musical direction more influenced by electro and indie rock?

Funk is always at the base of it, but, for me, I just really wanted to experiment with these new grooves and sounds. It's gonna always be funky, but it's not always going to be recognizable funk. Sometimes it's going to be the new millennium funk. Franken-funk.

You've headlined a number of festivals alongside indie rock and electronic acts. Was there a sense those influences started bleeding into your own music?

I mean, it could have. Just being out there and hearing new sounds and things like that, yeah. I'm a music lover, so I'm inspired by everything. The other day my daughter was listening to some Lykke Li, and that [bleep] was jamming. I had to go out and get the song.

How often do your kids turn you on to new music?

All the time. They play music when they're doing homework and I'm like, "Damn, everything they're playing I've never heard before." When I take them to school, I use them as my little junior A&R. I'll put some music on and they'll be like, "You need to get on that song, dad! You gotta put some words on that one right there dad!"

At this point, you've spent more than two decades making music. Do you still feel like you have something to prove?

Naw, I ain't gotta prove nothing. I done did everything there is to do. Won every award. Sold the most records. Right now, it's just all about the music and living a happy life and getting here with the fans and touring and having fun, man. But there's definitely nothing to prove.

Listening to the record, it still sounds like something is driving you, though.

Yeah, the music. I love the music, man. The music, to me, that is the driving force. You can still hear the passion. If I didn't have that I wouldn't do it.

In Outkast, critics always wanted to paint you as the straight man, a perception your solo albums have all but obliterated at this point.

That was something the label started with the Player and the Poet, and all this other [bleep]. It definitely didn't bother me. The music speaks for itself. When you think I'm going to go this direction I go that direction.

The title of "Vicious Lies" comes from the name your grandmother wanted to give her autobiography, which she never got around to writing. What title would you give your autobiography at this point?

"Everything Big: We Don't Do Nothing Small."

Big Boi, 8 p.m. May 1 at Park West. $27

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge
    Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge

    An argument over a woman led to one man being killed and another wounded during a shooting inside a South Loop music lounge early Saturday, police said.

  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.