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Big Boi talks new album, 'The Big Sleepover'

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And finally today, a duo that created one of the greatest party songs of all time, at least in my humble opinion, is back.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WAY YOU MOVE")

OUTKAST: (Singing) I love the way you move. I love the way you move. I love the way you move. I love the way, I love the way.

MARTIN: The creators of "The Way You Move," Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, have teamed up once again for a new album called "The Big Sleepover." Big Boi, of course, is also one half of the rap supergroup Outkast, along with Andre 3000. And it's been 27 years since the release of their first album, so he is no newcomer to this, and he is with us now to tell us what he's been up to and what is on his mind. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here.

BIG BOI: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So first of all, how has the last, like, year and a half or so been for you? Because a lot of the artists we've spoken to said that, you know, because of COVID, the isolation, quarantining, having to slow down, you know, cancel tours, things of that sort, a lot of them, it caused them to kind of think some different thoughts. So what was this last year and a half like for you? Did it take you any place kind of different creatively?

BIG BOI: Kind of sharpening our craft and spending time with the family and learning how to cook and having Bible study and exercise and things like that. I mean, just, you know, had to go inside and just find an inner peace.

MARTIN: You've learned to cook?

BIG BOI: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: OK, well, what did you work on?

BIG BOI: Seafood. So I don't eat beef or pork, haven't in over 30 years. And so my wife bought me an air fryer, and I started grilling lobsters in the air fryer and I perfected it to the perfection of the highest of perfectionists. And then I moved on to the barbecue shrimp in there. And then, you know, I started trying to, you know, experiment with making side dishes like black-eyed peas and yams. So, yeah, a year and a half, I've turned into a professional chef.

MARTIN: Good man. I'm sure your efforts are appreciated.

BIG BOI: Oh, man, everybody wants - they expect me to cook every week.

MARTIN: (Laughter) OK, see, that's a problem. Now you're a victim of your own success.

BIG BOI: Right. Right.

MARTIN: So tell me about the new album. Like, what was the inspiration for it?

BIG BOI: Sleepy Brown and I've been - you know, we've been together since the very first Outkast song was released 28 years ago today, "Player's Ball." And he's been on tour with me for, like, the past six, seven years. And so we've been doing, you know, a gamut of just, you know, all of the hit records and songs that we've recorded. And just being on the tour bus, we were like, hey, man, let's just do - why don't we do some new songs, you know, some brand-new songs, just me and you, a whole album? And we were like, why didn't we think of that before? So we started - just started working on it, you know, while we were on the road. And when we would come home from the road, we'd go in the studio and just put these ideas down. And it was just like organic progression of just brotherhood and the friendship and just the love of music.

MARTIN: Let me just play a little bit, and then we'll talk a little bit more. And the first thing we're going to play is "We The Ones." And I'm just going to play a little bit, and then I want to hear a bit more about what was on your mind. Here you go.

BIG BOI: Cool.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE THE ONES")

BIG BOI, SLEEPY BROWN, KILLER MIKE AND BIG RUBE: (Rapping) Elevated thinking, higher learning, and nah I ain't talking about the cookie that I'm burning. My sermon is for the children and for the mamas and the daddies that ain't earning. Now see the answers burning but that's just superficial on the surface. The people up in arms 'cause they're killing us on purpose. And now they pray for calm 'cause America is nervous. You heard me? Thank you for your service (ph).

MARTIN: So tell me what was on your mind as you were writing this. Where did this come from?

BIG BOI: It was basically a nudge to people to keep fighting, you know what I mean? You can never give up. Each one, teach one, there's power in numbers. And our whole - I guess our motto is, you know, we have to pass along knowledge that we have to all listening. You know, it's entertainment, but you have to educate as well as entertain. And that's what we try to do in all of the music.

MARTIN: To that, let me play the title track, "The Big Sleep Is Over."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE BIG SLEEP IS OVER")

BIG BOI: (Rapping) I'm perfection personified on the first take, Jedi rap [expletive] I was blessed with on my birthday. Check my track record. I sit back and attack [expletive] in the worst way, never been washed, stayed heavily starched, I'm Dickied down to the ground, ready to march. [Expletive] I'm a soldier. General Patton, yeah, he's a god. I'm trying to told you, honest in a game full of frauds, [expletive] I'll expose ya, the camera lens is pointed at Twan, kept my composure, the big sleep is over, wake up, nobody colder (ph).

KAY-I: (Rapping, unintelligible).

MARTIN: You know, again, I take your point that you're trying to keep progressing in terms of both sound and message. And you can hear a, like, you know, different style, different pace, the whole thing but also a similarly pointed message. So tell me about this one.

BIG BOI: It just - you know, the group is called "The Big Sleepover," and it's just the opposite of that, you know, because we just want to wake people up, which we've been trying to do since "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik." And a lot of people have been raised on our music, and it's been a soundtrack to their lives. So you sprinkle little nuggets in there just to make people think. And you just can't be too preachy about it. So it has to be slick, you know what I mean? It's like almost like when you're trying to give your dog his medicine. You put it in some hamburger meat or something. And he get that and then he's like, what else - what else is on inside, you know what I mean? So some things people might not catch the first listen, and that's the point. We want you to listen and get deep into it. So people are still discovering things we said years ago to this day, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE BIG SLEEP IS OVER")

SLEEPY BROWN: (Singing) We have nothing else to prove. We have nothing else to prove. We stay on point, whatever we do. We stay on point, whatever we do. Run your town, we'll do that too. Run your town, we'll do that too. Let me introduce to you the big sleep over (ph).

KAY-I: (Rapping, unintelligible).

MARTIN: So before we let you go, I know that another one of your important projects, your kids, you talk about them a lot. I know that your son is playing football for the Oregon Ducks. They're having a very good season, as I see. And what is that like for you to - sort of you be in the stands, right? What's that like for you after you're used to being the headliner? And now you got to sit there and be quiet? Well, I don't know how quiet you are, but, you know, you're not the coach. You're the dad. You're supposed to, you know, take a backseat. What's that like for you?

BIG BOI: Well, I mean, he's been playing ball since he's been, like, 5 years old. So to see him chase his dream and get better and good at his craft and excel on and off the field, you know, what I mean? - because he has a super high grade point average and everything - we just try to support him at every avenue, you know. Me and his mom fly out to every single game, away game and home games. So the past three Thanksgivings, I've been in an Airbnb, which I'm going to be doing next week as well. I had to buy another air fryer to take out to Oregon to cook the lobster and the fish while their mama do the turkey and the yams and all the other stuff. So he's doing good and he's happy. So it's been an adventure.

MARTIN: Well, congratulations on that. I mean, that is your most, you know, important job, isn't it? Big Boi, thank you so much for talking to us. Happy holidays to you and your family, continued success.

BIG BOI: Hey, thank you so much. Have a blessed weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WAY YOU MOVE")

OUTKAST: (Singing) I like the way... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.