Our new video series presents a closer look at -- and an exclusive performance from -- the cool artists hitting the Billboard Tastemakers chart, which brings you the top-selling albums each week based on an influential panel of indie stores and small regional chains.
Big Boi Live: Billboard Tastemakers
Big Boi has been everywhere these days, but not in his role as half of Outkast. Instead the Atlanta singer/rapper, born Antwan Patton, has been earning attention as big as his moniker lately for another of his projects: his first solo album, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty." We managed to catch up with Big Boi while in New York promoting the album on what he joked was his Grammy hustle. For the latest installment of our Tastemakers video series, he brought along DJ Cutmaster Swift ad he himself threw down a 3-song set of "Left Foot" tunes full of freestyling, whip and lasso his mic cord moves and ad-hoc photo snapping with our neighbors, the cast of MTV's "The Hills."
When "Sir Lucious Left Foot" was finally released in July after lots of hard work, delay and label drama, it debuted in the top five of several Billboard charts, including a No. 2 start on the Tastemakers Albums tally where it remained in the top 20 for seven straight weeks. To Big Boi, the album was well worth the wait.
"It's all about positive vibrations and good vibrations," he explained. "I worked on it for a long time, and the fans were dying to hear it so have it out and accessible to the fans is what it's about."
Video Below: Big Boi performs "General Patton."
The signature beats of producer Scott Storch, one of Forbes magazine's "Hip Hop Cash Kings," were laid out as the foundation for the first single, "Shutterbug," when Storch reached out with the track made especially for Big Boi.
"[Storch] played the beat at the loudest volume I've ever heard a record played at in my life," Big Boi remembers. "I was deaf for about three minutes."
The rapper then took it back to Atlanta, looped in his band, "put layers of bunk on it" and the rest is "Shutterbug" history. While the next single isn't quite decided yet -- he's leaning toward "Tangerine" and "Hustle Blood" -- Big Boi continues to add fuel to the promotional fire, gearing up to release a music video for nearly every track on the album. He's also sharing his nearly two-decades of experience in the form of mentoring Vonnegutt, an upcoming electro/hip-hop group out of Marietta, GA, who were featured on the album's second official single, "Follow Us."
Video Below: Big Boi Performs "Daddy Fat Sax"
The scratch-happy banger, "You Ain't No DJ" with up and coming Alabama rapper Yelawolf, was yet another collaboration that came about organically. "He's a real MC," Big Boi says. "I'm a fan of true lyricists and he's definitely one of the great ones that's coming up right now."
Big Boi played coy, however, when we mentioned the upcoming solo album by Outkast partner Andre 3000, simply saying that everything is going according to plan, adding that pair will swap spots at the board adding production credits to each other's albums before joining forces for another Outkast effort. The duo's last collaboration, 2003's double album "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" topped the Billboard 200 album chart, and singles "The Way You Move" (Big Boi) and "Hey Ya!" (Andre 3000) reached No. 1 on the Hot 100.
"Everything is top secret," Big Boi says of Andre 3000's album. "Dre said mum's the word until we get close to letting ya'll know what's really going on. Can't give you a timeframe, but we are workin'."
In the meantime, he focusing on the "Lucious Left Foot" world tour. He'll be heading to Europe and Australia before hitting the west coast. "We're pretty much booked up until January. The touring thing is what I'm doing right now, just really spreading the word on the album and giving the fans a live taste of what's to come.
"I've been on my left foot, on the good foot, rockin' my hips everynight. You know, just havin' fun."
Text by Lisa Binkert