Album Review: Big Boi’s ‘Boomiverse’

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“Boomiverse” has tons of guest appearances, plenty of boom and Big Boi’s iconic flow. His classic flow, however, fails to make the album a classic. Still, “Boomiverse” has plenty of enjoyable hits.

The Good

The album is at its best when it’s holding down Atlanta. Killer Mike appears on three songs, while Gucci Mane and Jeezy each have a verse on one song respectively. These songs work because they get the closest to Big Boi’s original funky, Outkast sound. For all the styles Big Boi adopts, he pretty much steers clear of Trap and instead stays true to his original Atlanta sound. Thank God.

Like Jay-Z and Snoop, Big Boi has managed to make his style timeless. This isn’t a given. We all love Ice Cube, but his aggro-style only works in context. You could plop Big Boi down in most genres and time periods and he’d be able to adjust his vocal performance accordingly. Jay-Z is six years older than Big Boi and Snoop is four years older. It will be interesting to see whose style falls out of favor first if any of them ever do.

Big Boi’s approach to choosing beats helps keep his style fresh. Of course Outkast was always pushing the boundaries of rap. Perhaps Andre 3000 was the more eccentric of the pair but Bog Boi was and is no square. “All Night” is a jaunty, piano based tune that wouldn’t work for most, but Big Boi handles it with ease. The very next song is a bass-y, West-Coast-funky song featuring Snoop Dogg. Versatility and an open mind are Big Boi’s fountains of youth. (By the way, if you’re wondering if Snoop comes on the track and does his thing, the answer is that he does.)

The album has two very strong tracks (“Kill Jill” and “All Night”) and a handful of passable tunes besides. Throw into the mix Big Boi’s smoothness and a collection of diverse beats and you have the basis of a solid album.

The Bad

Some of the tunes miss the mark. “Order of Operations” is a collection of killer Big Boi verses unfortunately connected by a horrible hook. It’s petty to let a little thing like a chorus ruin a song, but that speaks to how bad the hook is. “Overthunk” also has a bad hook but it surpasses “Order of Operations” by also having an annoying beat.

And don’t forget “Freakanomics.” It’s cool that Big Boi tried to incorporate some jazz on the album. Points for the effort, but otherwise it is a dud.

However, a few bad songs don’t sink the album. The album’s lack of cohesion and general lack of substance are a bit of a problem. That being said, not every album needs to be about something. There are plenty examples of pseudo-conscious albums that lean heavily on their status as woke music.

On a final note, Big Boi’s skits are polarizing. Half of me remembers the skits from “Stankonia” with fondness. The other half of me thinks the skit at the end of “Freakanomics” is superfluous. I could take them or leave them.

The Ugly

Because the album is a collection of songs that somewhat lacks cohesion, there are some songs that are clearly, unabashedly targeted at specific audiences. “Mic Jack”, for example, is a shameless piece of sugary pop nonsense. The presence of Adam Levine suggests that the song will soon make an appearance in something like the long-anticipated Space Jam sequel. Or maybe it will go the way of Pharrell’s “Happy” and end up in a Dreamworks or Pixar film, after censoring of course.

“Chocolate” suffers from a similar problem. The song was obviously designed for an audience. The blatant crafting of the would-be club hit makes it impossible to enjoy. That’s on top of the song not being very good. Everyone loves a good banger, but this isn’t a hip-hop club banger. It’s a house song with hip-hop haphazardly slathered onto it so “the kids” will have something to dance to. Boo.

 

Thanks to a collection of uber-talented MCs, including the album’s architect Big Boi, “Boomiverse” is a good listen. The album won’t blow anybody away, but it has too many solid tracks to be denied. If you don’t expect anything monumental, the album will not disappoint.

Grade: 3.5/5

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