Savannah’s Big Boi needs little introduction to music fans. As half of OutKast, Big Boi’s creative genius helped propel the hip-hop duo to unprecedented commercial and critical acclaim. OutKast has been on an extended hiatus since 2007, allowing Big Boi to focus on his solo work. The MC is currently on tour in support of his sophomore effort Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. We caught up with Big Boi via phone in advance of his April 30 appearance at the Vogue.
Kyle Long: You’ve always been a music innovator. Did you ever worry that you were pushing your sound too far for your audience to follow?
Big Boi: No, definitely not. Since we started with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, it’s always been about trying to chart new territory. I’m always gonna give people something different and if you’re a music lover you’re gonna put your headphones on or turn it up in the car and have a good ass time.
Kyle Long: Your music has a very universal appeal. Outkast always attracted a diverse audience, from thugs to hippies. What about your music speaks to so many people?
Big Boi: I’m like a meat lover’s pizza at Pizza Hut, I got everything on this motherfucker. It goes back to your first question, you have to give people something unexpected. I don’t like to do the same thing twice, that’s why every song on my albums sound different. People aren’t used to that, because radio programmers like a certain kind of music so that’s what you get on the radio all day.
Kyle Long: Your latest LP is full of collaborations. I’ve heard your biggest ambition is to work with Kate Bush. Is that going to happen and what about her music attracts you?
Big Boi: Hopefully one of these days when I make it across the pond, I’ll sit down and have a spot of tea with her. It’s her creativity, the layers of sounds and the lyrics. There’s a meaning behind all her songs and that speaks to me.
Kyle Long: You also collaborated with the Atlanta Ballet several years ago?
Big Boi: Yeah, that was really dope. I was the first hip-hop artist to work with a ballet. I always wanted to take that show out to Vegas and park it there for a couple months to let the people out West experience it.
Kyle Long: What’s the state of hip-hop in 2013?
Big Boi: Hip-hop is now global. It speaks to everybody – all ages and all races. It’s a way of life. It’s a form of raw expression. So we definitely need to keep making that good music so we can keep this thing moving forward.
Kyle Long: I’ve read your grandmother once told you that you have a responsibility as an artist to bring valuable information to your audience. How did that message influence you?
Big Boi: Being in music you got to educate as well as entertain. If you’ve got a voice that reaches across the globe, why not put something in someone’s life that will cause them to think. That’s the best thing you can do for a person, to get them to use their brain. I’m all about getting people into that thought process. The music is supposed to uplift them, it’s not just a party all the time.
Kyle Long: You’ve spoken out about your mistrust of corporate media. Where do you get your news?
Big Boi: Right now I get a lot of my news online. The mainstream media isn’t covering everything they should and they have their own agenda. The news that we consume is owned by just three or four corporations and they’re all saying the same things.
Kyle Long: What can we expect from your show at the Vogue? Will you have a full band, or will it be two turntables and a microphone?
Big Boi: Everything – two turntables and a microphone with guitar players, drummers and back up singers. The whole nine yards.
Kyle Long: You’ve been making music for 20 years. Looking back, what’s been the most memorable moment in your career?
Big Boi: That would be winning album of the year at the Grammys. That’s the biggest honor you can have in music. That along with going diamond, not many artists have done that. After that, it was like we accomplished everything.