Big Boi Is Wide Awake

BYMitch Findlay9.8K Views
Link Copied to Clipboard!
Noam Galai/Getty Images
Big Boi

Big Boi is ready to wake up the masses with his next album "The Big Sleepover," a collaborative effort with Sleepy Brown.

It's appropriate that the man who once delivered "The Rooster" is determined to wake up the masses. Sitting on the precipice of his upcoming album The Big Sleepover, a joint effort with his longtime collaborator Sleepy Brown, Big Boi has decided that an alarm clock is no longer sufficient. The legendary lyricist is taking matters into his own hand, beginning with a co-headlining concert at the upcoming MLS All-Star Concert presented by Heineken. 

With the show set to take place on Tuesday, August 24th at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum -- a lead-up to the MLS All-Star Game the following day -- we had the opportunity to catch up with Big Boi before the big event. As it happens, this month is looking like a big one for the Atlanta emcee; not only is he set to kill another festival, but he's also gearing up to release his album's next single, "The Big Sleep Is Over." Not long after, Big Boi and Sleepy Brown will deliver the full project, barring any late-game changes of plans.

Big Boi & Kaytranada Live At The LA Memorial Coliseum - Digital Flyer

"'We're in a whole other dimension, on a whole other plane," explains Big Boi, during our Zoom conversation. "And it’s always been like that, to go extremely opposite of wherever the mainstream is going. That’s how you tap into that gold mine. And that’s what we do. It’s a brotherhood. Sleepy Brown was on the first Outkast song, he’s been on some of the Outkast’s biggest records, some of my biggest records. We build as creators and as writers and artists and producers, and we push each other."

For more insight into Big Boi and Sleepy Brown's upcoming album The Big Sleepover, check out the full interview below, edited for clarity and length. 

LISTEN: Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, Killer Mike - lowercase (no cap)


HNHH: What's up Big Boi? 

Big Boi: What up bud?

How are you doing?

I’m super fantastic. 

Thank you so much for taking the time. I’ve been a fan for a long time.

‘Preciate it buddy.

Congrats on the new album that you and Sleepy Brown are working on. The Big Sleepover. I’m really looking forward to hearing that.

Yessir.

When I’m listening to your solo albums, it's clear that you have a specific vision in mind, both sonically and lyrically. What did you want to accomplish on this project that you guys are cooking up right now?

Every project is about evolution. Challenging and pushing yourself to create something new that you haven’t done before. Once you tap into that, then you got it, you know what I’m sayin? Different rhyme patterns, substance, subjects, melodies, beats, rhymes, and life -- like Tribe Called Quest said. This is a whole other chapter, and it’s good to push yourself and feel good about what you created.

In terms of that beats, rhymes, and life element...what’s speaking to you right now creatively and thematically?

The album is The Big Sleepover. It’s Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, but it’s the opposite of a slumber party. The big sleep is over, everybody wake the fuck up. I like that. That’s what we do -- wake 'em up.

Working closely with Sleepy on this one, is there a sense of nostalgia in the creation process? 

No, nope, nope. No, no nostalgia. It’s all futuristic shit. We're in a whole other dimension, on a whole other plane. And it’s always been like that, to go extremely opposite of wherever the mainstream is going. That’s how you tap into that gold mine. And that’s what we do. It’s a brotherhood. Sleepy Brown was on the first Outkast song, he’s been on some of the Outkast’s biggest records, some of my biggest records. We build as creators and as writers and artists and producers, and we push each other.

What’s the songwriting process like? 

First, we go through a beat-harvesting period, where we piece together the soundscape to see what might work. We might let the beat marinate. It might be four years, we just keep the playlist on shuffle. And day-to-day, the vibe might jump out on a different song. You always put your ideas down, no matter if it’s a piece of a hook, a piece of a verse, a whole verse, a sound. You just start building like you’re building a house.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Organized Noize is producing a lot of the album, correct?

Yes. Organized Noise. Calvo Da Gr8. I got some of my own in-house producers from Boom Boom Room Productions. We got some G’s on here, man.

Any chance you can share a few guest appearances? I know you got Killer Mike on there.

That’s about it! That’s about it. [Laughs]

That’s all you really need. 

Killer Mike is on about three songs, maybe. It don’t take a lot. It don’t take a lot.

Is it a longer album?

It’s about 14-15 tracks. Standard, get in, get out. We ain’t gotta pull the who’s who, and who’s the hottest, to make our sound be what it is. Maybe you might wanna throw somebody on a remix or something like that just for flavor, but we got our own ingredients.

How much thought goes into the arrangement of an album when you're working on the tracklist and the pacing?

Man, that shit changes a thousand times before I turn it in. One of my strong suits is sequencing. I know how I like to hear it and how it rides from top to bottom when you push play. You become the unskippable. That’s what you want to become - the unskippable. So, anybody looking through that’s going “Oh let’s go to this song with him on this hook”- no. Push play, and ride.

I like that. I used to have a van with a six-CD changer. Sir Lucious Left Foot was one of the mainstays in that van. I played that album a million times from start to finish. Every Summer, it comes back into rotation.

Yes, sir! Timeless, baby!

Moving on to the upcoming MLS All-Star Concert presented by Heineken -- What drew you to that event?

Shit, it’s what drew them to me. They want some of this futuristic funk. The brand speaks for itself. They know when we come in we are the festival killers. We like the special forces of the rap game. When you want some shit destroyed, you know who to call. It’s gonna be top to bottom, high-impact energy, hit after hit after muthafuckin hit. And we gonna spread that new shit in there, which his hit after hit after muthafuckin hit! We ain’t gonna give the crowd a chance to breathe, straight up.

With the state of how things are going on in the world right now, shows haven’t been so frequent. 

We’ve been moving around. I did a whole show at Centennial Park. “Big Boi’s Big Night Out.” With thousands of people. The first socially distanced show I’ve done. It was in the middle of the whole “shabangaboom" -- not one incident. But they didn’t record that so you probably didn’t hear about it.

When you're crafting your setlists, how are you putting that together? 

Everything from Southernplayalistic to the Big Boi solo catalog. I might do some Big Grams. It just depends on what region we’re going to and how I feel. And how long the show is -- usually it’s somewhere from 60 to 90 minutes, so there's a lot to choose from.

Definitely. So I have to ask, knowing that you're such a fan of hers -- Any word on that Kate Bush dream collaboration? 

I did a duet with Kate Bush. I'ma hold it. I'ma hold it. It’s done, it’s in the can. Oh my god, I can’t wait ‘till people hear this. It was a dream come true and the last thing on my bucket list that I wanted to do musically.

I saw you had mentioned that a while ago and I had been rooting for you to get that. So I’m happy you pulled it off!

Goddamnit, I got it!

When can we expect The Big Sleepover?

It’ll be out this month. The next single is called “The Big Sleep Is Over." The title track for the album should be out in another week or so.

The title track, there’s a lot of significance there-

Yeah. WAKE UP, GODDAMN IT!

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

About The Author
<b>Feature Editor</b> <!--BR--> Mitch Findlay is a writer and hip-hop journalist based in Montreal. Resident old head by default. Enjoys writing Original Content about music, albums, lyrics, and rap history. His favorite memories include interviewing J.I.D and EarthGang at the "Revenge Of The Dreamers 3" studio sessions in Atlanta and receiving a phone call from Dr. Dre. In his spare time he makes horror movies.