Big Boi is a man of endurance. Throughout his 20-year long career, the Atlanta hip-hop luminary has specialized in elastic, bombastic verses that, to this day, leave mere mortals gasping for air. Last night (Dec. 10) at New York City’s S.O.B.s, Big Boi treated fans to such skill when performing favorites from his storied discography to celebrate the release of his second solo effort, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.”
Cuts from “Vicious Lies,” out today (Dec. 11), were undoubtedly the main entree, but the courses prior were not to be forgotten. Big Boi’s backing band stayed in step all night with bassist Debra Killings kneading comfortable pockets for Big Boi to ride, while drummer Omar Phillips added some stadium sized drumming (complete with requisite stick twirls and colossal cymbal crashes). Although a few technical kinks occurred, but were worked out, nothing could get in the way of Big Boi’s train as he cruised through classic after classic such as “Stankonia” double feature, “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms Jackson,” “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” standout “Daddy Fat Sax,” with a spot-on acappella ending, and a monstrous rendition perennial crowd pleaser, “B.O.B.” The rapper ended his first slew of songs with a rendition of “Rosa Parks” soaked with wailing, gin drenched horns.
Album release shows can be tricky business, particularly when you’re an artist with so many hits in his arsenal and with a new album that most fans have yet had enough time to sit with. But Big Boi scoffs at such challenges. With the crowd sufficiently warmed up, he kept everyone grooving during the “Vicious Lies” cuts, getting some extra help from electro-pop duo and album collaborators, Phantogram. Guitarist Josh Carter plucked spoonful licks and singer Sarah Barthel sung delicate hooks for “Objectum Sexuality,” “CPU,” and “Lines,” which A$AP Rocky bounded on stage to unleash his verse. Big Boi closed out the “Vicious Lies” portion with funk-bumper “Mama Told Me,” a fantastic choice considering how neatly it segued into one of the night’s many highlights, “The Way You Move.”
While there’s a spacious, g-funk cool to early OutKast cuts like “Player’s Ball” and “Elevators (Me & You),” Big Boi had his band on another level for these cuts, the latter getting an injection of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” while everyone howled that hypnotic refrain: “Me and you, your momma and your cousin too/ Rolling down the strip on Vogues/ Coming up, slamming Cadillac doors.”
For dessert, Big Boi served up a few more “Sir Lucious” standards like “Shine Blockas” and the funk-banger, “Shutterbugg.” For his last two tracks of the night, Big Boi payed homage to Atlanta busting out the Purple Ribbon All-Stars classic “Kryptonite (I’m On It).” He closed his set with “In The A” — a big brass stomper that had Big Boi rhyming full speed ahead, bouncing across the stage, shoulder-dropping and leaning back with as much funk as earler in the night.