All photos by Felicia Pinckney, used with permission.
Big Boi simply couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic and devoted crowd for his show this past Sunday (September 17) at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club. The emcee, who proudly hails from Atlanta and serves as one half of the legendary duo OutKast, released his third solo album Boomiverse in June, and like his previous efforts, the record contains notable cameos from some rap’s most influential figures (Snoop Dogg, Gucci Mane, Killer Mike) and beats that match Big Boi’s hefty and renowned ambitions. Despite making music for over two decades and being a self-professed perfectionist, his approach to his craft remains fresh, innovative, and progressive. At the Paradise, he didn’t miss a single step.
Even though Big Boi just played The Meadows Music and Arts Festival in Queens the night before, he made the plunge from a sea of thousands to a modest several hundred quite effortlessly. Flying high off the energy of onlookers eager to be in his presence, the rapper glided through a setlist steeped in newer gems and OutKast classics. Mirroring Boomiverse, he opened with “Da Next Day” as two flat screens — displaying vibrant visualizers used in several of his music videos — outlined his every move. Other tracks from the LP, like “Kill Jill,” “All Night,” and “Chocolate,” were thrilling when translated to the stage. But it was when Big Boi delved into OutKast’s illustrious catalogue that the crowd was at its rowdiest.
It’s hard to believe that OutKast’s debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, was released more than two decades ago back in 1994. A bold proclamation on the intricacies of southern rap, that record introduced us to the pair while simultaneously solidifying the massive influence they would have on pop culture. Big Boi reveled in his history as he soared through hits that simply stand the test of time. “ATLiens,” “Rosa Parks,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” and “Ms. Jackson” felt as invigorating and crisp as ever; “The Whole World,” “B.O.B” and “The Way You Move” were stark reminders of OutKast’s seemingly endless creativity.
It wasn’t long before everyone in attendance raucously demanded an encore as Big Boi teased an abrupt exit. What we received as he made his way back to the stage was his UGK collaboration “Int’l Players Anthem” as the final song of the night. It was fitting as a tribute to his southern roots and while it appeased those familiar with Big Boi’s work from the very beginning, there was a glint in his eye as he performed the song with sheer reverence, appreciation, and grace.
Follow Candace McDuffie on Instagram @cmcduffie1.