On the upcoming Boomiverse, it seems like Big Boi is attempting to meld sleek pop and Southern tradition not as a singular aesthetic—like he did masterfully on Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty—but as assorted parts of a whole. That’s how a Dr. Luke production ends up on the same project as the late Pimp C, who was so skeptical of going mainstream that he initially said no to “Big Pimpin.” The album may suffer by this diluted focus, but taken out of its context, the singles have been satisfying.
“In the South” isn’t as tight as the Killer Mike-starring “Kill Jill,” but it thrills in its back-to-basics traditionalism. It’s the first Boomiverse single where Big Boi’s spotlight is unobscured. He canceled out Adam Levine’s network television uncoolness on “Mic Jack” and got outshined by Killer Mike on “Kill Jill,” but here his knack for charismatic catchphrases (“Ball till you fall or your homies die,” he says in a cleverly sour twist) shines in full effect. Pimp C arrives as a chopped up apparition on the hook, a posthumous appearance well within the Texan tradition. And fresh from his stint as the Fifth Harmony, Gucci Mane slides into the production’s haze to layup a few one-liners (“Police brutality, I’m strapped like a cop”). It’s a reminder that in some contexts, the South still reigns.