April 5, 2010

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From mustaches to Maxells, all trends eventually return. So it’s unsurprising that you can calibrate the electro-rap sensibilities of the current pop marketplace by Big Boi’s latest single, “Shutterbug.” Hip-house might have been much maligned by hardcore heads 20 years ago, but enough time has passed for its absurdly modish fashions to be largely forgotten or adopted by that Theophilus London impostor — while its ability to blend rap with the dance floor is now highly sought after by people who probably wouldn’t know AB Logic from Louis Logic.

Certainly Big Boi has had at least a passing interest in dance music since “Bombs Over Baghdad.” But the official single from Speakerboxx, (his real debut solo album) was “The Way You Move,” a butter-smooth spoonful of neo-soul featuring Sleepy Brown on the hook. While that sort of thing might get him the theme song for the second season of How to Make it In America, like all artists with commercial ambitions, he’s looking for radio play. After all, rap changes fast, and Big Boi’s last failed single, “Ringtone,” was a misguided and tardy attempt to capitalize on auto-tune and the T.I. infatuation with ringtone cash grabs.

“Shutterbug” is an entirely different polar bear (with cold toe nails). Sir Luscious seems to be moving with the trends rather than behind them, with a beat full of Nintendo synths that could’ve been programmed by Ikonika, lightning and thunder drum claps that will decimate proper sound systems, and some vocoder funk that could’ve come from Roger Troutman or Dam-Funk, the rightful inheritor to Zapp’s throne. This is Big Boi aiming for the Kid Cudi crowd, offering something as au courant and probably as polarizing as Nikki Minaj’s “Massive Attack.” In the hands of a lesser rapper, this would be a career-ending failure, but Antwan is one of the greats and his nimble double-time sounds as comfortable and confident as it ever did. Either way, dudes down since Dungeon Family and Diggin’ in the Crates’ will be thrown for a loop. It’s a strange reality to consider that both of the latest singles from Fat Joe and Big Boi feature Soul II Soul samples. Even stranger to consider that they’re both good.

Download: (via Nah Right)

MP3: Big Boi – “Shutterbug”
MP3: Fat Joe ft. Young Jeezy- “Slow Down (Ha Ha)”

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