While his Outkast partner Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin) does movies and whatnot to stay current, Big Boi (Antwan Patton) does more music. Since he and Andre called it quits after their 2006 album Idlewild, the artist also known as Daddy Fat Sacks took some time off from album making and finally returned in 2010 with Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty followed by 2012’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, two good LP-accomplishments with almost too much outside help. This year, “General Patton” has returned not with another personal, solo endeavor but on equal footing (or so we hope) in a new group. Electro-pop/rock band Phantogram (Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter), who appeared on “Objectum Sexuality” from Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, have linked with Big Boi again, only this time to become Big Grams, and last Friday (Sept. 25), they released their self-titled debut EP via Epic Records.
Instead of being a Phantogram-produced Big Boi album, the Big Grams EP is almost the diametric opposite — a Phantogram album with Big Boi included, where his almost guest-like contributions are boiled down to one or two rap verses per song, as opposed to blended, interactive engagement from both camps. Big Boi does a lot of self-advertising without really getting anywhere mission-wise (except for conceptualizing the seven deadly sins), and Phantogram are just there to dish out their new robo-dance ear catchers so the meaning behind this slightly PC project becomes elusive. Additionally, the inclusion of Run The Jewels and Skrillex is understandable (and a little fascinating) yet counterproductive to Big Grams and what they are trying to achieve in this small, unfulfilling set.
The Big Grams EP makes for a decent music merger, though their combined talents here never eclipse the strength of each on their own, and that’s when they’re actually mixing and mingling, which is rare. It can be strongly argued that Big Boi and Phantogram hardly ever unite into one true entity on the EP. They mostly react to each other but not in an intertwining, overlapping way, just one after the other but not at the same time (besides with the music). Big Grams is not a waste of time, but for hip-hop heads, there is a lot of teasing and deadweight in waiting for Big Boi to come in on each song. After this so-so experiment of an EP, it’s hard to see them going very far together in the future, unless of course they really sit down to flesh out a good, extensive LP.