More than two decades since he released the highly influential, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, a benchmark album in establishing Southern Rap as a force to be reckoned with, former-Outkast rapper BigBoi returns with Boomiverse. This new album combines cosmic and futurist directions with BigBoi’s signature Southern rap sound and with hard-driving party jams. The project as a whole has a somewhat disjointed feel and relies heavily on BigBoi’s creative momentum to provide some coherence. What prevents this album from achieving a full return to form is a palpable lack of assurance about its overall creative direction.
Overthunk and Underachieved?
That’s not to say that BigBoi himself is not in strong and daring form, since he strives mightily to reinvigorate his genre by simultaneously acknowledging the conventions of popular rap music while also pursuing his abiding interest in more experimental music. One standout track is the single “Kill Jill,” in which Jeezy’s trademark growl works alongside the ambient singing style of Japanese artist Hatsune Miku. At this point, the listener is hoping for another demonstration of BigBoi’s remarkable ability to thrive musically in a wide variety of different sonic settings. Alas, some of the album’s other tracks don’t deliver on this promise. To take just one example, “Overthunk” lives down to its title and strengthens doubts about BigBoi’s capacity to carry a big, multi-directional rap project to a wholly successful conclusion.
The simple truth is that BigBoi remains strongest when he works with bass-driven rap beats and when he strikes a strong pose on posse cuts. BigBoi consistently does his best work when he interacts vocally with experience-hardened MCs. Setting himself against Gucci Mane and Pimp C, for example, BigBoi scores one of the album’s biggest triumphs, “In the South.” All in all, then, this is a creditable album, albeit one with a number of striking flaws. What troubles the listener is that the quality one hears in places is not sustained across the album.
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