Apparently the first that legendary Atlanta rapper Big Boi heard of Phantogram was through a rogue internet pop-up ad, that most hated of online phenomena. Such a tenuous connection must have undergone some rapid escalations, because improbably out of this has come the latest in supergroup collaborations: Big Grams.
Big Boi of course is best known for forming half of groundbreaking Southern hip-hop duo Outkast, while Phantogram have been making waves in New York's electro scene from as far back as 2007. Preceding their eponymous EP, was this stormer of a lead single. Opening with a glitchy piano trill over a cruising Southern beat, the instrumentation soon brings in banks of synths and sighing vocals from Phantogram's Sarah Barthel. The production is nigh on flawless. In the rousing choruses, the hook is underpinned by subtle brass bringing more flavour to the mix. Big Boi's voice nestles perfectly on top of stripped back bass and solid drums which slowly assemble touches of finesse such as backing vocals and horns.
Big Boi spits absolute fire on his verses, sticking to an effortlessly relentless flow. As so often happens with spur of the moment collaborations, the content at times is a little lacking, yet here it serves as a reminder of the rapper's prowess lyrically and commercially "Servin' nothin' but that gas cause the walls are full of plaques". In this instance however, the lack of thought provoking musings can be forgiven, when such a sense of rejuvenated excitement hangs around this entire track. Big Boi even drops his characteristic twitchy tongue twisting style here in place of a straightforward flow, more fitting to the revelling atmosphere on this EP.
In hindsight, it's really no surprise that both artists' superficially different styles fuse so well; Phantogram's "Fall In Love", their lead single from their 2014 album "Voices" has stomping synths and the slightest hint of trap snares shuddering around the edges of the track. In all collaborations there must be a degree of compromise, and considering the different musical landscapes these musicians inhabit, they've combined their creative minds insanely well.
The rest of the EP is most definitely worth a listen, other highlights are "Lights On"- where a yearning urge for comfort following a drunken night out sandwiches a classic Big Boi middle eight; and "Drum Machine"- a banger, more impressive in that it harnesses the chaotic production of Skrillex and managed to sound remotely cohesive.
It seems that we should be really grateful that Big Boi doesn't use Adblock.
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