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EXCLUSIVE: Big Boi Talks New Tour, His Influences and Social Climate: ‘We’ve Been Woke’

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The word “legend” gets misused all of the time and it’s often attached to people who don’t truly deserve it. Other times, however, the word is used perfectly and it lands on the right person or group for the right reason.

Without question, Antwan André Patton, aka Big Boi, falls into that legendary category, since he and his childhood friend Andre “3000” Benjamin became the cornerstones of Southern hip-hop and changed rap music as we know it today.

Big Boi and Outkast pretty much invented the mad scientist approach to making rap music, seeming in one instance to be musical geniuses from outer space and in the next those two relatable dudes from your block.  

In other words, the duo was completely disruptive and their influences on hip-hop can be compared to how Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen shifted basketball’s two-man play approach, or how John Coltrane and Duke Ellington sent other Jazz artists back to the drawing board when they partnered on songs like “In a Sentimental Mood.”

Eventually, Outkast with some help from their longtime production team Organized Noize, dropped some of the genre’s most celebrated albums, such as “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” “ATLiens,” “Aquemini” and “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.”

Then as Andre began to step away from the recording booth Big began to venture down his own musical path as a soloist, and let’s just say he navigated that path extremely well.

His first album “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” came in 2010. Then in 2012 he dropped “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors,” and he just released his brilliant third solo LP “Boomiverse” in June of 2017.

To support the “Boomiverse” album, Big Boi will be heading out on the “Daddy Fat Saxxx Tour – Sack 2,” which kicks off in Canada on Jan. 5 and wraps up in Austin, Texas on Jan. 27. It’ll be the second leg of the tour since the first one took place in August of last year.

Before heading out to Canada for the first date, the gifted rapper, producer and now actor spoke with Atlanta Black Star in an exclusive interview about the tour, music, Black people being “woke” these days and Atlanta’s new marijuana laws.

ABS: By talking to you for just a few minutes, I can tell that you’re really excited about the tour.

Big Boi: It’s the second leg of the tour we’re doing now. Canada, West Coast, Texas, then we’ll head over to Europe. Then we’ll head over to New Zealand, Australia, then back to Europe, so we just spreading the word on this good music, man.

ABS: Are there any cities in particular that you’re especially excited to play? Are there certain places where audiences seem more energetic and more into your sound?

Big Boi: The West Coast, they embraced our music early. From San Francisco on down to L.A. The West Coast is into funk music and since ‘Southernplayalistic [music]’ is funky music, funk has always been part of the formula and they get into it. So we going to get over there and we going to funk them.

ABS: We’ll get more into the “Boomiverse” album in a few, but can you tell me how it feels to see what Southern hip-hop has turned into today? Especially since you were one of the people who were directly responsible for putting it on the map and bringing global ears to it?

Big Boi: [It makes me feel] proud. It’s been a long journey starting in the days where Southern hip-hop wasn’t accepted, Southern MCs weren’t respected and to see now the South is holding its own — even better than that running the table — so I applaud everybody out here that’s doing their thing.

ABS: What do you say to yourself when you hear those acts that have clearly been influenced by you, like Big K.R.I.T. or the group EarthGang?

Big Boi: It’s dope. Everybody is influenced by somebody, so it’s where they take it after that. Like it’s a discovery period, so as long as they dig music, do your thing to the best of your ability.

ABS: Who were your musical influences coming up? Who was that person or group that made you want to pick up a pen and start putting verses together?

Big Boi: Definitely N.W.A. That’s like my favorite group of all time. Bob Marley, Isley Brothers, definitely The Pharcyde. We listened to KMD, De La Soul, the whole Native Tongues movement, E-40, 8Ball & MJG, UGK, Souls of Mischief, A Tribe Called Quest, you know, musical taste is everywhere. From Metallica, to Guns & Roses, to Sade, Anita Baker.

We reference Sade in our music. That was one of our favorites. My daughter’s name might’ve been Sade if my wife would’ve let me name her that. It ain’t “No Ordinary Love.”

ABS: There aren’t too many rappers who’ve talked about this, but what does it feel like when those same childhood influences know who you are and become fans of yours? That has to be crazy.

Big Boi: It’s pretty amazing. I had the chance — I mean, I met her before because we did a tribute — but Janet Jackson the other day invited me to a private after party and to a concert, and my wife went over to the show and my wife is a die-hard Janet Jackson fan, so to see my wife get to meet somebody she loves and Janet be so gracious and cool … She’s a similar type of person to how I am. She was cool as hell.

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Ms. Jackson 💎

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ABS: Switching gears a little, over the past few years there’s been a rise in consciousness among younger Black folks when it comes to speaking out against injustice — to the point where the term “woke” is now a slang term. Has that rise in consciousness affected your writing when you put “Boomiverse” together?

Big Boi: Man, I woke up a long time ago. Since “Southernplayalistic” we’ve been woke. To see people finally open their eyes to what really is going on in the world, it’s great. The motto is each one teach one, so just spread information and people will discuss their different points of views and different things and have educated conversations, then the world can be united.

ABS: Going back to the album, can you break down the meaning of “Boomiverse?” I saw that you said it means a drastic change, like The Big Bang Theory.

Big Boi: The whole notion of making music to me is evolution, and to be here 20 plus years you have to evolve. You don’t have to change with the times, but you have to be a new you. Don’t try to follow the Joneses. Don’t try to do what everybody else is doing. You just do you on different levels every time. “Boomiverse,” the Big Bang is the start of something new.

We want to charter new territory. It’s like mining for gold. Like every day we’re looking for that new sound, that one bar, that melody for the hook and once you put all those things together, you’ve got something new. We could always go back, listen to our old stuff and remix it and do a spin-off of that, but that’s not what we do. That’s not exciting. What’s exciting is making something fresh and new and that’s what we do every time.

ABS: Do you think there’s enough rap artists out today who are trying to push the envelope like you’ve always done?

Big Boi: It depends on what artists you talking about. Different artists make different types of music. But there are some out there that are evolving and changing and pushing it. I salute everybody. To all the new, up and coming artists, don’t be scared to try something new because you never know what you might find.

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ABS: How has Organized Noize and member Ray Murray influenced you as an artist, and what was it like putting “Boomiverse” together with them?

Big Boi: It’s a brotherhood. They’re like big brothers. They’re like family members of the Jedi counsel. So with me being a Jedi master and also a student, I always look to Organized Noize for guidance, because they helped start our careers and have been there the whole time. And it was actually a gift for me, about five or six years back Ray Murray moved into Stankonia Studios, where we make all the music at and he’s been there with me since then. We got a lot of music cooking. Organized Noize got an EP out as well, and we just going to give it to y’all.

ABS: It was amazing to see Kurupt on the song “Made Man” with you and Killer Mike. How did that come about? Especially since we haven’t heard from Kurupt in a while.

Big Boi: Me and Tyrese was shooting a TV show “Star” on Fox, and he was in town for that. Then one day he just came through the studio and Kurupt and Ray Murray from Organized Noize are like the best of friends. 

I reached out to a producer named Siege Monstrosity and he had a beat and Kurupt put the beat on and was like ‘Big Homie’ and pushed play. It was crazy. Then me and Kurupt started freestyling for about 30 minutes. Then we was like ‘Let’s go on and get in the booth then.’ Kurupt went in there, I went in there and then Killer Mike blew in like ‘Holy sh– I got to get on this.’ We like to say the music is organically created, never genetically modified.

ABS: Speaking of Killer Mike, what’s it like to see all of the success he’s had with his group Run the Jewels, since you more or less introduced him to the world?

Big Boi: I’m proud of him. Anybody that knows me knows that I’m proud of all my musical accomplishments. But anything outside of what I’ve done, one of the two best things I’ve ever done was sign Killer Mike and Janelle Monae, and they have made me so proud, and they push the envelope and we’re family and to see them prosper and grow and evolve, it just makes me feel like a proud big brother.

ABS: I’ve noticed that you keep a highly positive attitude and always seem gracious towards others, like never speaking bad about Andre for not doing new Outkast stuff.

Big Boi: Anybody who knows me, man, knows that I’m a people person. I’m all about positive vibrations. If you ask me how I’m doing every time, I’m going to tell you I’m doing super fantastic, phenomenal … So I kind of like to just spread that positive energy. It’s something that was just taught to me when I was young. Be humble, treat people good. Treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s no stresses. Positive energy. Keep that negative sh– away from me. We don’t even deal with that.

ABS: A few months ago, I saw that you posted something about Atlanta’s marijuana laws being decriminalized. What are your thoughts on the recent change?

Big Boi: I think that we are all on the same piece of land and an invisible line shouldn’t determine whether somebody goes to jail for 20 years across an imaginary line and somebody gets to have eight plants and three ounces.

We’re on the same land mass. You f— around and don’t see the damn sign, you go past the line and your ass is in a whole ‘nother realm. So I think it’s about that time [to make it completely legal].

They’ve been showing the medical benefits of CBD oil, stopping seizures in kids and things like that, I mean come on. If it’s legal in all them other states, this is the United States of America, lets unite this motherf—er.

ABS: What’s coming up in the future for you? Where will we see you next?

Big Boi: Check me out. I do a couple of things on the small screen. A couple of episodes of “The Quad” on BET that’s coming out at the top of the year. Also, I did a couple of episodes of “Scream” on MTV that’s coming out, so I’ve been doing a little more acting. I got a couple of scripts I’m looking at.

We got new music. Of course, “Boomiverse” is a double album, so I have like 30 more records that I’m gonna trickle out throughout the course of [2018] while I’m promoting “Boomiverse,” so just stay tuned. Go to for all the exclusives. I’m going to give away some stuff, some music, just keep the people happy.

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