Thursday afternoon at MSR Studios, just off of Manhattan's Times Square, Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot himself, sidled up to the studio's recording console and cued up some select cuts from his new album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, due out November 13. Flanked by co-producer Chris Carmouche and Phantogram vocalist Sarah Barthel, who delivers hooks on the album, Big Boi said some brief hellos and then got down to business. Here are five reasons to be psyched for the new record:
1. Big Boi Hearts Phantogram
"She's my new Sleepy Brown" Big Boi said, comparing Barthel, who was snapping pics of the MC, to the Dungeon Family hookmaster. His connection came from a bit of kismet. Turns out Big had unknowingly heard Phantogram's ethereal "Mouthful of Diamonds" in a commercial. After he had Shazam'd the track and figured out which band was responsible, he hit the duo up on Twitter. Carter and Barthel eventually came down to Atlanta to work on the record. Sarah handled hook duties on three of the tracks played, one of which was produced by Phantogram's other half, guitarist Josh Carter. (That track, the spacy "Objectum Sexuality," was a highlight.)
2. Big Boi's Building a House
Throughout the listening session Big Boi referred to the album's recording process as being akin to "building a house." He's being hands-on with the construction, co-producing most of the album with Carmouche. The resulting structure skews futuristic, from the synth-based architecture of many tracks to the slamming programmed drums — these are not your typical funky Organized Noise beats. (And that includes the ones ON produced).
3. André 3000 Helped Set Lie's Direction
Three Stacks didn't add any verses to the music that Big played, but the tracks still bore his influence. Big Boi explained that early on in the process, he'd been taking the music in more of a classic funk direction. That is, until he played the tracks for A3K, who promptly told him that they sounded "old school." Dre also turned Big onto synth-pop smoothies Little Dragon, whose singer Yukimi Nagano added vocals to Lie's "Momma Told Me."
4. Big Boi Has Love For the Young'uns
A$AP Rocky and Kid Cudi add verses to the album. The latter does his sing-songy emotional exorcism thing on the cinematic "She Hate Me." Rocky pops up on the down home, slowly unwinding "Lines," on which he works through some different vocal tics. (Barthel adds a hook to that one, too.)
5. It's a Family Affair
Big Boi's grandma, who recently passed, inspired the album's title. The Savannah, Georgia native recounted how his grandmother always told the family that if she had a movie made about her, it would be called Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. According to Big Boi, his children also had a hand in the record, as they helped him pick beats. Son Bamboo told his daddy that he had to use the beat for street single "Gossip" and also turned him onto A$AP Rocky. Good work, son!