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In concert: Big Boi at 9:30 Club

By Aaron Leitko

big boiBig Boi played mostly OutKast material at 9:30 Club on Wednesday. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Aaron Leitko

Back in 2003, Big Boi got stuck playing straight man.

The rapper, one-half of mega-selling Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast, was cast as the humorless street-hard traditionalist opposite his arty and ultra-flamboyant bandmate, Andre "3000" Benjamin. Critics called Benjamin visionary. Big Boi was dubbed, "dependable." Following the double album "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," the duo went on hiatus.

In 2010, however, it seems like Big Boi got the better part of the bargain.

Wednesday night at 9:30 Club Big Boi - real name Antwan Andre Patton - performed a number of songs from his solo debut, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty."

Contrary to popular belief, Patton is not a somber guy. He proved an energetic and engaging presence - rapping at warp-speed, catapulting around the stage with chain-necklaces a-glittering. Accompanied by only a DJ and College Park-based rapper Blackowned C-bone, he managed to keep energy high for the duration of his one-hour set, rolling forward on the heavy 808-rhythms and double-time rhymes.

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Big Boi had to fight hard to get "Sir Lucious Left Foot" released. His then record label, Jive, held the album, hoping to pressure the rapper into getting back to business with OutKast. From a commercial standpoint, Jive's concerns were, perhaps, well founded. Big Boi's performance was lightly attended, particularly for a guy whose past record sales have totaled in the bazillion range.

But from an artistic perspective, Big Boi is at the top of his game. His latest single, "Shutterbug," is giddy with bass bounce, humor, and the best use of talk-box since Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer." It shook the room, brought arms into the air. His persona, once written off as traditional, is now a welcome refuge from a legion of dour rappers that just want to talk about street crime and purple drank.

Meanwhile his OutKast counterpart is, well, pretty much off-the-grid. A few years on, Benjamin's antics seem like the stuff of parody - an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine on hip-hop evolution, rather than a next-step.

Not that Big Boi is willing to let the duo's legend slide.

The rapper spent a large part of the evening whipping through the group's glory days--performing hits like "Rosa Parks," "B.o.B.," and "So Fresh, So Clean."

Just his verses, though.

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By Aaron Leitko  | September 9, 2010; 2:23 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Big Boi  
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I would have liked to have gone, but $35 is excessive. Looks like a lot of others might have felt the same way.

Posted by: JSGNWDC | September 9, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I can think of several concerts at the 9:30 that have received good reviews, which involved black musicians and signers, and which the reviewer said specifically were lightly attended. Big Boi, Public Enemy, Betty Lavette, a concert of old soul/R&B singers within the past year or so come to mind. In a city of DC's demographics, this seems pretty odd. Are the ticket prices too high, as JSGNWDC indicates? (Dead Weather didn't have any trouble selling out at that price or higher, nor do a lot of other bands.) Do many African-American people in DC just not go to the 9:30? I sometimes hear the folks on WPFW give a run-down of jazz and soul acts coming to DC, but I don't recall hearing them mention anyone at the 9:30 (though maybe I did not happen to be listening in the days before the acts noted above). I would think that with a bit of thinking and plannning, perhaps an adjustment of ticket prices, these acts could sell well in DC.

Posted by: MyPostID27 | September 10, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

As much praise as the album has received, I don't think it's sold particularly well. Also, Wed night was the first night of Rosh Hashana, which may have kept at least a few people at home. It did for me.

Posted by: agl132 | September 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

It's an interesting point, MyPost. The show was also on the heels of Rock the Bells and Nas, so maybe people spent their money elsewhere. And, honestly, I bet that Best Coast show stole a lot of Big Boi's audience.

Posted by: DavidMalitz | September 10, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

DM -

I'm not sure who Big Boi's audience is, but I was at the Best Coast show, and the audience consisted almost entirely of caucasians under the age of 30. Also, how many people does the R&R Hotel hold?

Posted by: MyPostID27 | September 11, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

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