DNA: Blondie & Fab Five Freddy (with a faster flow); Metric
The saying goes that sometimes the sum is greater than the parts. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Big Grams, which is a collaboration between Upstate New York’s very own Phantogram and Big Boi from Outkast. Nevertheless, I’m not going to harsh their mellow for trying something interesting. The album is much better than most. I was hoping for more, however.
Big Boi’s rapping skills on this album are beyond reproach. The lyrics flow and they’re interesting. Big Boi owns this album, spewing confidence in every direction. “Run for Your Life” [NSFW] and “Goldmine Junkie” [NSFW] are good examples of Big Boi’s skills. “Born To Shine” [NSFW] is another example; in this song he gets a little help from El-P and Killer Mike a/k/a Run The Jewels.
Sarah Barthel’s voice is heavenly and Joshua Carter’s beats are sparse and masterfully crafted. The interplay between Barthel’s singing and Big Boi’s rapping isn’t perfect or incredibly interesting at certain points on the album but it’s good, very good music nonetheless. One of the album’s strongest songs is “Lights On” [NSFW], which should have been the anthem for summer 2015. The song provides a good stage for Barthel’s voice. Her vocals throughout the album are beautiful.
Big Grams gets much props for creating something very different. More important, Big Boi, Barthel, and Carter look and sound like they’re having fun and want you to join the party. Ain’t no shame in that game, right? (here’s an example when they combine Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” & Phantogram’s “Mouthful of Diamonds” live in concert).
On a scale of Natalie Green (Forget It) to Tootie Ramsey (Vet It) to Blair Warner (Get It) on the other side of the spectrum, this album is a Tootie Ramsey “Vet It” 7+.