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If Outkast were still making music as a duo in 2012 then surely it would sound like Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours. The only thing missing from Big Boi's solo sophomore effort is his partner-in-crime, the ever elusive Andre 3000. And while as different from 2010's Sir Luscious Left Foot as it's possible to be, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours is aggressive, lyrically dexterous and just downright funky.

'Thickets' is the most high-spirited of openers, with Sleepy Brown's soulful crooning on the hook evoking memories of vintage Outkast. 'Apple of My Eye' is another throwback, integrating everything from a little bit of Outkast classic 'Rosa Parks' as well as even a smidgen of The xx. Big Boi's own expansive musical taste is evident on this album as he effortlessly blends indie rock, the soul funk of producers Organized Noize and a fair amount of traditional Southern rap. 'Apple of My Eye' is easily the albums bounciest track and one that frankly dares you to resist tapping your foot or nod your head. Yet the electro-infused 'CPU' is another fantastic example of the blend, as pulsating electronica is combined with a trademark Outkast high pitched vocal sample. 
 
Album Review - Big Boi 'Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors'
There is also the ridiculously lecherous 'Objectum Sexuality', which is, while sometimes indulgently explicit, carried by some outstanding closing violins and a haunting vocal from Phantogram's Sarah Bartel. More than one track on the album ('Objectum Sexuality' included) also benefit from some pleasant and experimental musical breakdowns as the songs come to a close. Moreover, the album is thoroughly blessed by the abundant presence of both Little Dragon and the aforementioned Phantogram. With the latter on production and both on hooks of their own, Vicious Lies is a heavily chorus-laden affair but all the better for it. Unlike much of mainstream pop, the melodies are as complex as they are catchy, in keeping with Big Boi's own affinity for intricate lyricism. 'She Hates Me', for example, is aided in no small part by another master of the alternative hip hop hook, Kid Cudi, who brings his own brand of solemnity to proceedings.  
 
The self-sampling 'In The A' (lifted from last year's smash single 'Shutterbug') showcases Big Boi's breathtaking flow alongside both T.I. (on top form) and Ludacris, an emcee with still one of the most dynamic flows in the game, regardless of the dramatic decline in the quality of his music over the years. On the track, Big Boi's rhymes tumble across the booming instrumental as he declares 'I ain't lost a step, but some of y'all n*ggas flaw to death' and it's clear the now 37-year old rapper most certainly hasn't. However, somewhat disappointingly, Vicious Lies veers away from weighty subjects, with the exception of 'Tremendous Damage', a song in which Big Boi employs a very poppy, very Drake-like flow, amidst getting more personal than he has in several years. But Big Boi seems to prefer to keep it light for the most part. While the bass-heavy 'Thom Pettie' feels marginally out of character, 'Mama Told Me', accompanied by a Kelly Rowland-sung, Little Dragon-penned chorus is just pure 90s. Nevertheless, 'Lines' is perhaps the album's greatest triumph with another ghostly vocal from Sarah Bartel and an A$AP  Rocky verse that highlights many similarities between his own rhyme style and the album's leading man. The pair sound great together on what is a standout track sounding unlike anything hip hop has produced this year. 
 
Album Review - Big Boi 'Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors'
A disappointment is the bland 'Shoes for Running'. Wavves and Big Boi just do not mesh well, standing courteously next to each other on the track, failing to create any kind of chemistry. Meanwhile, B.o.B phones in a middle of the road verse to dash hopes further. Big Boi's 'singing' on 'Raspberries'  another misstep, however tongue in cheek it may be. But both are redeemed by the glorious 'Descending', a graceful and beautifully detailed closer, with the album's greatest feature, the interplay between the Atlanta veteran and Little Dragon's Yukimi Nagano, at it's finest.
 
While not for everyone, Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors is an accomplished mix of two radically diverse genres. It's very effectiveness deserves plaudits, with album likely make many end of year lists. With a few minor missteps along the way, Big Boi has added another outstanding if experimental record to his own discography while bringing a touch of that unique, boundary-pushing Outkast flavour to 2012, even whilst the duo are apart. However, regardless of the albums strength, the burning question as it draws to a close is honestly this: where's your solo album at, Mr 3000? We're waiting on you.
 
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