Big Boi on Modest Mouse’s Apple Bongs and His Killer Bowling Name
Oh yeah, 'Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors' is out on December 11
Big Boi’s first request as he enters a lounge at the Island Def Jam offices in midtown Manhattan is for “ice water and a ceiling fan.” Cups of ice and a rotating floor fan soon appear as the Atlanta rapper takes off his heavy dookie chain and medallion and places it on a table. “One hundred carats worth of diamonds, white and pink stripes,” he describes. “A lil’ keepsake I got for myself.” In town promoting his upcoming solo album Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (a record we know at least nine things about) set for release on December 11, Daddy Fat Sax opens up to SPIN about his creative process, how to smoke out of an apple, and why he’ll no longer discuss his partner-in-rhyme André 3000.
You made a huge mark with OutKast — how old were you when OutKast started?
And how old are you now?
How are you able to stay hungry?
I still picture myself as a student of the music. I’m always trying to learn new things. Music is just what makes me tick. My mom’s like, this is your gift. This is what you’re put here to do. I’ve been [in New York] since Monday. That’s four days that I haven’t been in the studio so I’m gettin’ kinda antsy. I’ve been in my hotel room listening to beats, plotting what I’m gonna work on when I get back home.
What have you been listening to?
The new Mumford & Sons, the new Nas album. Big K.R.I.T…. [goes to his coat and gets his iPod] Look, I got 11,052 songs on my iPod. Cyndi Lauper. Guns N’ Roses, Geto Boys, N.W.A…push shuffle and anything will come on. Young Jeezy, EPMD, Linkin Park, 2 Chainz, Bob Marley, Trick Daddy, Killer Mike, Sade, Jay-Z, Monica, Björk, the Beatles, the Isley Brothers, OutKast…
Speaking of which, the Village Voice just printed a story with a headline that you felt was taken out of context, and now you’ve said that don’t want to talk about OutKast anymore.
It’s like if I give them a little piece of anything — I was the liason to them knowing what was going on with us. Like, I Instagramed pictures on Father’s Day, we were with the kids. Because the fans be wanting to know what’s going on. But now, I’m not giving no more information about none of that because they take words and try to make stuff up and twist it and take things out of context. You have certain people that wanna sensationalize a story. So my whole thing is, when you see us sitting side-by-side doing an interview then you’ll know it’s on. Our lives, like the relationship that me and him have, is not in the public eye; it’s more private now.
You said a while back that you guys grew up together like brothers.
So yeah, they fucked that up yesterday; I ain’t talkin’ about it no more. I don’t need a sensationalized headline to sell music or to bring attention to my music. It’s the music and it’s always been about the music. So I just try to urge people to kinda feed your brain with more information than reality television and things that are fantasy. I’m always trying to find brain food and indulge in knowledge that’s gonna be useful.
Can you share some of that brain food?
One thing that strikes me is how much police brutality is going on because that’s not really reported in the mainstream media. Every day police are tazering or shooting somebody’s dog or doing something crooked. It’s like something out of the movie. That power trip is something. Not that I’m anti-police but I’m pro-freedom.
You have a lot of collaborations on the new album. It seems like a lot of people are phoning in collabos these days.
It’s better to be in the same creative space to get the best results. Me and my partner Chris were working on some songs with Modest Mouse for their new record. We brought them out to the studio for a whole week — Isaac and the boys came down to Stankonia for a week. To live day in day out with somebody, it’s so cool. Going to get dinner, going to get breakfast. The conversations and little side stories are the things that really pull the music together.
Can you share any of those side stories?
Yeah, I learned how to make an apple into a bong from one of the guys in the band. Smoke outta apples, definitely.
How do you do it?
You put a hole in the top and you put a hole in the side and then you kinda drill it out from the top to the core, and you just put a bud on top then you fire it up and — [breathes deeply]. Fire it through the top and pull it from the side.Sweet Cheebah. I love it.
Did anyone else come spend time in the studio like that?
The first time Little Dragon came, they came for three days and brought music, but then this time, at the end of October, we wanted to create something from scratch so they came for like a week. We cut about seven records, three of ‘em are on this album and two of ‘em are gonna be on their album. Yukimi [Nagano]’s the shit, man. She’s Aquarius too, that’s my sweetie pie. They came to my bowling league with me and we had a costume party.
You’re in a bowling league?
What’s your bowling name?
I’m dead serious.
Do you rent shoes or have your own?
My own shoes, my own bag, my own balls; I’ve been in the bowling league for years. My shoes look like white orthopedic nursing shoes. They’re not just like the bowling shoes that look like some skates without the wheels.
Is your ball engraved with your name?
One of ‘em. Yep. Big Shirley. That’s the name of my bowling ball.
What else should people know about the new album?
I’d like to say that the music was organically created and never genetically modified. There’s no way that I would wanna hear a whole album with just my voice. Especially since I’m used to being in a group with my partner, I’m used to collaborating. The A$AP Rocky collaboration was just by chance, I was on the way out of V103 radio station in Atlanta and he was on the way in. I told him we was fittn’ to go record. He was like ‘Yo, I’m coming over there right after I leave here.’ And he came right after he left the radio station.
On “She Hate Me” featuring Kid Cudi, you have a line: “I’m late, I just put the key in / It would probably be straight if she was European / She’s not, she’s hot and mad as she can be.” What’s the about?
Just being sarcastic, like the whole cliché of the angry black woman — like you can’t get away with shit. But a white girl will let you do whatever the fuck you wanna do.
Is that true?
I mean, I don’t know, I’ve never dated a white girl. Just speculation and sarcasm; not like a pushover but…do you think it’s true?
I don’t know. That’s the stereotype I suppose, that they’re more submissive…
I love submissive; I don’t care what color. [Laughs]