About halfway through Big Boi’s second true solo album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, the listener will probably begin to wonder what exactly makes the album so disappointing. It could be that it is vastly inferior as a whole to his previous effort, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, that it just doesn’t live up to what the hype machine built it up to be, or, most likely, it is disappointing because no individually good elements seem to come together at the right time.
Perhaps the track that embodies this fatal flaw the most is “Objectum Sexuality.” The gigantic, full, and supremely satisfying beat, the expertly sampled vocals, and the airy hook provided by Phantogram all create an excellent opportunity for a good hip-hop song. However, none of this can save the song from Big Boi himself. Sure he displays some technical ability, but it really feels like the veteran emcee is mostly just going through the motions. The lyrics about some sort of shallow, misogynistic relationship are beyond cliché and Big Boi does little to shed new light on the oft-used topic. This, coupled with the lack of passion or conviction displayed through his inflection and tone in general, makes for two very stale verses.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have his moments, but even when he gets everything together as a rapper, it feels like something else is always going wrong. Whether it be the overly-saccharine hooks on “Mama Told Me” and “Tremendous Damage” detracting from his energetic and introspective rhymes or Wavves’ out-of-place guest spot on “Shoes for Running” ruining the track’s flow, it seems that Big Boi, the production style, and the sundry of guests can never collectively get everything completely right. Ultimately, this causes the album to be hit-or-miss at its best.
And then there are times when the record is just plain bad. Both the introduction and closing tracks (“Ascending” and “Descending,” respectively) are entirely pointless filler with both lacking even one single real verse or even mildly interesting musical idea. The banger “In the A” seems like it is able to deal with its lackluster hook in production at first, but then it is embarrassingly tarnished with an atrocious Ludacris verse (by the time he finally stops making awful jokes and half-hearted brags, he concludes his spot by declaring no one can out-rap him, inducing a painful amount of irony). Unfortunately though, that’s not rock bottom for Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, which instead comes on the song “Thom Pettie.” The most instantly recognizable problem is the simple, annoying, and overused hook, but that isn’t even the biggest issue. What really puts the song past the point of no return is Big Boi’s slow, awkward rapping that can’t create the needed fire and fun even though there is a quality beat and chorus.
All in all, there are moments to be enjoyed on Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, but that isn’t nearly enough to salvage an album that’s inconsistent at best. Not to mention that even if you do truly enjoy most of the album, it would still be very difficult to argue that it is truly on par with the rest of Big Boi’s body of work.