“It’s easier to shape a young mind than repair a broken one.”
Big Boi transformed into his more mature self, Sir Lucious Left Foot, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2007 and began recording his first stand alone solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, set to arrive July 6th on Def Jam Recordings. The day carried an extraordinaryenergy—similar to five years earlier on the same holiday, when Big Boi started working on OutKast’sSpeakerboxxx/The Love Below, a milestone double album featuring solo CDs by Big Boi and his partner-in-rhyme André 3000, which went on to win three Grammys and become one of the best-selling hip hop albums in history—11 times platinum in the U.S. and over 15 million worldwide.
So with that spirit of success in the air on MLK Day, it’s no wonder that Sir Lucious Left Foot’s lead single, the Scott Storch-produced “Shutterbug” featuring Cutty follows in the footsteps of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’s monumental #1 hit singles, Big Boi’s “The Way You Move” featuring Sleepy Brown and André 3000’s “Hey Ya!” “It’s a cut that’s all about capturing the moment, whether it be your kid’s first steps or you got a Polaroid and you with your lady somewhere,” Big Boi explains. “It’s about capturing the moment and getting them good times. When you look at certain photos, it takes you back to the moment, and that’s what it’s about. It’s a funky, get-down, slap-your-sister-in-the-mouth jam.” While “Shutterbug” is sure to be a club favorite, Left Foot’s initial first single, 2008’s “Something’s Gotta Give” featuring Mary J. Blige, was a heartfelt political war cry, as Big Boi says “something that’s gonna stimulate the brain.”
Big Boi’s had an activist spirit in his raps since OutKast’s 1994 platinum debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. In the beginning of their wild ride towards becoming the most successful rap group of all time with six multi-platinum albums, the Atlanta duo witnessed how deeply songs like “Git Up, Git Out” featuring Goodie Mob—which earnestly urges young men to believe in themselves and better their lives—resonated with people across the world. “That was the first time we knew how songs could really move people,” Big Boi says.
“After that, we were always conscious to put something mind tingling into the music and give them more than they’re used to.”
Sir Lucious Left Foot is the adult version of Big Boi, a grown man who is the son of Chico Dusty in more ways than one. Big Boi lost his father, Tony Kearse (nicknamed Chico Dusty while serving in the Air Force and Marines) in 2004 but holds his pops’ essence close, channeling it into his new album. “He will leave you in the dust,” Big Boi says. “He was a wild boy.”
And like Tony Kearse aka Chico Dusty, Big Boi is a man of many monikers: Daddy Fat Sacks, Big Boi explains, “is like the hardest of the hard, the most gutter of my personalities because I’m authentically from the hood.” General Patton represents the leader and fighter inside. “They call me the General. I have the lion heart.” Hot Tub Toney is the ladies man, Beach Boi grew up near the water and, of course, there’s the worldly Sir Lucious Left Foot he’s introducing on his new album. “I like to keep my eyebrows brushed. I love getting facials, pumpkin peels and algae masks,” Big Boi says. The cultural connoisseur collaborated on a show with the Atlanta Ballet in 2008 and is also an avid car collector. “Chevrolet Impalas and Cadillacs are my guilty pleasure.” But even the most sophisticated, successful rap star can’t forget Francis the Savannah Chitlin Pimp. “He’s the country guy from Savannah walking around with flip-flops and socks on not giving a damn about nothing,” Big Boi says. “He might have a piece of wheat straw in his mouth, representing Southern pride.”
Antwan Andre Patton was born on February 1, 1975 at 12:01AM in Savannah, Georgia. Every week, his grandmother sent him to the store to buy 45s to play while cleaning on the weekends—Bob Marley, Patti Labelle, James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic rang out from their Frazier Homes project windows. “We didn’t have a lot but we had an abundance of love in the family,” Big Boi, a proud father of three, says.
In the 10th grade, Big Boi moved to Atlanta to live with his aunt and met Andre Benjamin in the cafeteria at Tri-Cities High School. They became fast friends and formed Two Shades Deep. “Dre was Black Wolf and my name was Black Dog.
We wanted to be apart from everything else,” Big Boi says. “We didn’t know what the fuck we was doing but we stuck to it.” In his 11th grade year, Big Boi’s aunt passed away and he started sleeping on Dre’s bedroom floor. During their senior year in 1992, they signed with LaFace Records. “We bonded as brothers. After you’ve been with somebody for so long, as your own man you want to branch out. That doesn’t mean that the group is kaput, that just means you’re trying to elevate your mind and spirit and keep yourself entertained.”
Big Boi has certainly been keeping himself entertained. “I’m definitely a jack of all trades,” he says. After starring as Rooster in OutKast’s 2006 musical Idlewild, he went on to play the loveable villain Marcus in ATLlater that year and starred in Who’s Your Caddy? the following year as C-Note, a rapper trying to become a member of an all-white country club. When he’s not honing his chops in Hollywood, Big Boi might be checking in with his brothers James and Marcus at Pitfall Kennels, where they’ve been breeding pit bulls for more than a decade, with a client list including Roy Jones Jr., Serena Williams, Usher, 50 Cent, Young Buck and Lloyd Banks. “We just want to breed the best puppies and dispel the rumors and myths about the dog being so violent,” Big Boi says. He’s also busy with his label Purple Ribbon Entertainment which spawned the popular Purple Ribbon All-Stars mix tapes Got That Purp and Got Purp? Vol. 2, as well as Janelle Monae, whom Big Boi discovered at an open mike and signed to a deal at Bad Boy in 2008. The singer’s eclectic debut The ArchAndroid was also released this year.
As he evolves, Sir Lucious Leftfoot may have a lot on his plate, but Big Boi insists he’ll keep rapping, “’til I get tired. When they say hip hop is a young man’s game, I say shame on you.”