At the moment, a massive winter storm is cutting a swath from Oklahoma to New England, dropping snow, freezing rain and ice on top of 100 million people. Though it’s raining in Atlanta, at least it isn’t freezing cold, which should make it a little more pleasant for whatever birthday celebration Big Boi has planned. The co-founder of Outkast and the mind behind one of 2010’s most hotly-anticipated and well-regarded albums turns 36 years old today.
Antwan Patton grew up in and around Atlanta, indulging in music so intensely that he attended Tri Cities High School, a performing arts school in the city. While there, he befriended André Benjamin, the man who would later be known as André 3000 and who would make up the other half of Outkast, their hip-hop duo. The group signed a record contract shortly after high school ended and dropped their debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994. Though Outkast’s sound would evolve profoundly over the course of their career, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik laid the ground work for their worldview, with one foot grounded in the struggles of the south and the other somewhere on Jupiter.
Outkast dropped a total of six albums, with each one grabbing critical acclaim, huge sales, radio airplay and awards. But it was 2003’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below that really changed the game. Each member filled a disc, and though André’s half had the bigger hits (“Hey Ya!” and “Roses”), Big Boi’s half was the more consistent. But both were mind-bending and envelope-pushing, which made everybody excited for their impending solo albums.
Though his album was talked about and delayed for years, Big Boi struck the solo world first with 2010’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, a sprawling opus full of futuristic funk, down-home jams and bits of house music, bluegrass, blues and Broadway thrown in for good measure. Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty showed up on most every year-end best-of list published, and rightfully so, as it proved that you could be adventurous with hip-hop and still produce club bangers and big hooks. Considering Big Boi also mentored Janelle Monae, he had a pretty good year.
What’s next for Big Boi? Both a second solo album and a new Outkast project are both in the works, but until then, we can keep grooving to everything the man has already given us — including “The Way You Move,” a freaky, funky track from his side of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.