For Big Boi, creative frustration has been a blessing in disguise. The OutKast MC had been going back and forth with his label Jive for months on the direction of first official solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, turning in tracks that left label execs scratching their heads. "Whenever I'd go play them music they'd be like, 'We don't really know about that,' " Big Boi tells Rolling Stone. "So I'd go back in the studio and make more music. [Label politics] is the weakest shit in the world." The final straw? Jive suggesting Big Boi cover Lil Wayne's hit "Lollipop" "I love Lil Wayne," Big Boi says. "But how could you ask me, as an MC, to bite another man's style? That's crazy."
Big Boi escaped from his contract and immediately met with Def Jam head LA Reid, who agreed to release the disc. "From the first verse I played him he said, 'Let's go,' " the MC says. Good move: Sir Lucious Left Foot debuted this week at Number Three on the charts, selling 62,000 copies to become this week's highest-charting debut. Creatively, the album, which features production from Scott Storch and Lil Jon, proves that Big Boi is still at the top of his game: clobbering electro tracks like "Shutterbug" are punctuated by his inimitably slick and speedy flow. "This album is like a graduation," says Big Boi. "It's basically like when Luke Skywalker became a Jedi, so I'm in Jedi mode right now. I'm so into my craft, I feel unstoppable."
Big Boi feels invincible enough that he's already jumping into several new projects, including his next solo album Daddy Fat Sacks' Soul Funk Crusader, a tour through the end of the year and movie and TV projects. "I'm developing a couple of scripts right now and I have a couple of concepts for TV shows," he says. In his spare time, he continues to oversee his Atlanta kennel Pitfall, where he raises his prized pit bulls. (He recently sold one to rapper Rick Ross.) "They're one of the most intelligent dogs out there," he says. "If you show them affection, then you have a lovable dog."
As for the future of OutKast, Big Boi says the duo is still very much alive — he and Andre 3000 will start working on a follow-up to the 2006 Idlewild soundtrack son. "Dre's going to finish his solo record, and after he finishes his solo record, then we'll do the OutKast album," says Big Boi. "I'm ahead of the game right now by finishing my record and being out here now so I've got time to play while we're choosing songs for that record."
Reporting by Christian Hoard