Big Boi and Phantogram’s collaborative effort Big Grams (oh my god that name) sprung forth from Phantogram’s three features on 2012 album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.
Big Boi’s outlandish references pair well with Phantogram, purveyors of sultry vocals enmeshed with soft, echo-y, electronic takes on R&B.
Phantogram is a electronic two piece from New York, probably known best for their 2014 album Voices which was a hard-edged, black velvet painting, evoking the feeling of being sloppy drunk, crying-dancing in a club. It’s a mix of pop and abstractions. “Fall In Love” features a jacket with spikes and I want to have that jacket’s children. I would be a proud mother.
Big Grams is a seven track EP with a lot of laudable goals, which seem more focused than the tonally inconsistent Vicious. Namely, Phantogram know how to do rock solid hip hop production, and any gaps in knowledge they might have can be filled by one half of the group that made fucking Stankonia. Anytime people go on a tear about Big Boi’s solo efforts, it steams my clams. Did you make Aquemini? Were you in the video for Rosa Parks? Shut the fuck up, pal. Just shut your mouth.
I will actually fight you.
Alright I apologize for getting mad with you there. The album’s opening “Run For Your Life” establishes the formula for the album: Big Boi is gonna reference really explicit sexual escapades and throw a reference or two to ATL, and Sarah Barthel is gonna sing in a smoky, captivating way. It’s a fairly basic pop formula that is seldom deviated from. It’s not that I’m against Big Boi going on about his dick at length. Really, yeah okay I’m just gonna address it.
It’s just phallic as hell. In Goldmine Junkie, the opening is sang “One More Drill” over and over, with other gems from BB like:
Banana Dick On Deck, She Goes Gorillas
The song’s actually about the futile and often confusing nature of love and fear of codependence, but is sorta filled with insipid references to materialism conflicting with those very real worries. Its easy to see what they’re getting at, but they’re articulating the sentiment like complete assholes.
Run the Jewels pop in for a feature on “Born To Shine” and they’re a nice addition, adding their trademark bravado and sense of humor. Big Boi gets so goddamn filthy I can’t repeat what he said for fear of Going To Hell. Sarah Barthel sings the word “fuckboy” and we all begin clapping en masse.
I can’t fucking believe I’m saying this but the most solid dance track is a restrained song featuring Skrillex, “Drum Machine”. It’s constant build up and delayed gratification which is appropriate given the weird indirect eroticism of the album. Excellently composed and reined in. It feels like a Diplo track with nuance, so like not a Diplo track at all.
Really, you could say that of the whole album. Its great, it does what it’s supposed to and it promptly leaves, knowing full well it’s a One Off. Unlike Diplo.
Big Grams is available now, from Epic Records.
Source: Album Art
Michelle Perez is a young woman of transgender struggle, and a writer whose work has been featured in Medium Difficulty and Five out of Ten Magazine. She’s a Michigan native, and no, does not live in goddamn Detroit. Can be found on Twitter at @ThatWrongLove