It’s not an easy feat to consistently create timeless music over a rap career that spans longer than two decades. Big Boi, one-half of the iconic duo, Outkast, has cracked the nearly impenetrable code, which enables him to continue to rack-up accolades and Grammy nominations in 2017.
With Daddy Fat Sacks’ third solo album, Boomiverse still thumping in our smartphones, the 42-year-old MC embraced the serenading smell of blessings this week: Big Boi snatched his fourth Grammy nomination — a result of his collaboration with Run the Jewels and Danger Mouse on “Chase Me,” a song from the Baby Driver soundtrack.
“I’m blessed, but I really love it for my boys,” Big Boi tells VIBE. “But to be recognized by the academy, and your peers is always honorable. You know you’re doing something right. Being here over twenty years and still making music at a high caliber is just motivation to go back in the studio to make more.”
“Chase Me,” along with “Bodak Yellow” (Cardi B), “Humble” (Kendrick Lamar), “Sassy” (Rapsody) and “The Story of O.J.” (JAY Z) are all up for Best Rap Song of 2017. On Tuesday (Nov. 28), the devoted husband and father of two stopped by VIBE HQ for a conversation about working with Danger Mouse, the Grammy nomination, staying relevant as a rapper and more.
VIBE: Nas doesn’t like to repeat words during studio sessions. I’m not sure if you get that deep with it, but you definitely have a formula for being creative.
Big Boi: You never want to repeat. There are certain words that you coin that’s going to forever be cool, but a certain cadence, flow, a word, a situation, or set of bars, never mimic that sh*t. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been around so long. It’s been twenty years. We could easily snatch an old song, take some words out and make a hook and make a song. But that’s too easy. I get enjoyment from tapping into that new stuff. And being able to express things in a different time. A different way, but still staying true to myself. Nas is one of my top fives MCs, too.
“Chase Me” was your first time working with Danger Mouse. How did the initial studio session happen?
I was up here promoting Boomiverse, and Run the Jewels had a private show, and after the show, we went to Nas’ restaurant, Sweet Chick, where Killer Mike and [El] P were like, ‘We got this song for this soundtrack. We got a spot in there for a verse. But we gotta have it tomorrow.’
I got to the studio, I was dead a** tired. My wife told me to get it done. I took a nap, woke up and I jumped on it. The chemistry was there. Me and Killer been family forever, so it was natural. But that was my first time rapping over a Danger Mouse beat. So, for it to get recognized on some natural energy sh*t, that’s dope.
I have to say your Grammy-nominated song “Chase Me,” with Run the Jewels and Danger Mouse is amazing and Boomiverse is unlike much of the stuff that’s out today.
Boomiverse was actually a double album, so I have a batch of songs that I’m still finishing. I have some other stuff coming real soon. Real Big. We just put out the “In the South” video, and just did an Apple commercial for “All Night,” which is my favorite song on the album. So, you’ll see that visual next.
Why is “All Night” your favorite song?
It showcases, not just me as an MC, but my melodious voice. It’s a fun record. I love the uplifting message, and my wife loves it.
You’ve harmonized on other records, but have you ever worked with a vocal coach?
No, that’s all me. Me and Jesus. Our whole motto is: ‘A bad note is sometimes a good note.’ We ain’t claiming to be Patti LaBelle and Luther Vandross, but it’s all about feeling. If it feels right, and the people in the room feel it, you got something.
You and Danger Mouse may have something new.
[Laughs] Right. We might need to do some more work with him.
Stream Boomiverse below on iTunes.
Ed note: This story is part of a larger interview, where Big Boi discussed his admiration for the late activist/comedian, Dick Gregory, and one of his favorite books, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, which will run as a separate interview for VIBE’s V Books section.