Once and possibly future OutKast rapper Big Boi serves as a one-man hipster public works project on his offbeat, excellent sophomore disc, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.” “Rumors” is packed with features, and not just from usual suspects like Ludacris and T.I., but from decidedly non-hip-hop blog champs like Little Dragon and Wavves. It’s tough to think of another rapper who has employed so many avant-popsters for the purpose of genre-bending cross-pollination: He’s like B.o.B. for the tasteful. The end result is a crackling three-ring circus of an album, one that Big Boi never quite manages to get under complete control.
He shows up solo on only a handful of tracks and appears to be merely stopping by several others. The dreamy single “Lines” includes vocals from A$AP Rocky and Sarah Barthel from trip-pop outfit Phantogram, who does her best Kate Bush; professional unhappy person Kid Cudi guests on the mournful and wobbly synth ballad “She Hates Me,” and electro-Swedes Little Dragon turn up throughout.
“Rumors” is split almost down the middle between two types of songs: more traditional fare like “Mama Told Me,” a gleeful funk jam that makes wise use of a frequently miscast Kelly Rowland, or the T.I./Ludacris trunk rattler “In the A,” and slower, synthier, blip-and-bloop-type offerings spearheaded by the cool kids. The former are solid but frequently unadventurous. The latter can get weird, as on “Shoes for Running,” featuring B.o.B. and the strange stoner kid from Wavves, two people who should probably never be placed in proximity to each other. It’s hazy and impenetrable, but like even the lesser songs here, it’s a noble experiment, even when it’s a mess.
“Lines,” “Mama Told Me,” “In the A”