Big Boi brings the old school hype to a freshly picked set list

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Big Boi brings the old school hype to a freshly picked set list


At this stage in his career Big Boi is left to fly the flag for one of the most celebrated hip hop acts of the ‘90s and early 2000s while Andre 3000, his partner in OutKast, rests in semi-retirement. The weight of that mantle is a curse, in that everything that he does as a solo artist will always be compared to his group’s high watermarks of Aquemini and Speakerboxx/Love Below, but is also a coupe as he is the only one able to travel the word playing that very material.

Attendance at 170 Russell was noticeably lacking, but that didn’t stop those there from reacting enthusiastically to the Atlanta rapper’s every playful entreaty from the moment he bounced onstage. His latest offering, Boomiverse, showcased the slick flows, hooks and playa-centric rhymes that Big Boi has exhibited throughout his career, with this show relying heavily on the new material. The album’s opening track ‘Da Next Day’ gave way without pause to 1996’s ‘ATliens’, and 1998’s ‘Skew It On the Bar-B’ and ‘Rosa Parks’, reassuring fans that there would be older jewels throughout the show as well.

Backed by DJ Cutmaster Swift – who did an excellent job at integrating most of the set into a non-stop medley – Big Boi was also joined by Sleepy Brown who, as one third of Organized Noize, has been an associate since producing the first OutKast album in 1994. Brown matched Big Boi’s enthusiasm, the two crisscrossing the stage, rapping together and inciting the crowd to get excited.

Dressed in his signature khakis, gold chain, ATL cap and sunglasses, Big Boi kept a smile on his face the entire time, his command of the stage after almost 30 years clearly second nature. The one major complaint, besides the initially boomy sound and low budget graphics displayed on the screen behind, was that having seen them play two days earlier at Golden Plains, not only had they played an identical set, but even the banter was delivered exactly word for word. However, for most people this was not a problem.

‘Spottieottiedopaliscious’ was a welcome addition to the setlist, with the entire crowd singing along with the famous horn line and Brown delivering the hook, while Big Boi remained on hype man duties rather than doing his verse.

With the news having broken earlier that day that hip hop legend Craig Mack had passed away, the group paid a brief tribute by way of his grimy 1994 single ‘Flava In Ya Ear’.

After dipping into several of the new album tracks, of which the single ‘All Night’ got the biggest reaction, the show was brought home with the familiar beats of ‘The Way You Move’ and ‘Kryptonite’, before a single encore of Big Boi’s verse from the classic UGK/OutKast collaboration ‘International Player’s Anthem’.

For an artist with such a long catalogue of songs to choose from, the set felt brief and incomplete, due largely to the fact that half of the show was dedicated to songs that Big Boi could only perform a single verse of. This was the reality of pursuing new music while simultaneously flying the flag for OutKast, a true gift and a slight curse, the result of which was something less than mind blowing, but still pretty good.

Highlight: ‘Spottieottiedopaliscious’.

Lowlight: ‘Order of Operations’.

Crowd Favourite: ‘Ms Jackson’.