If you’re a fan of Outkast or Phantogram, listen up: Big Grams brings you a little bit of both, in an experimental new sound.
Big Boi – half of the Outkast duo, sans Andre 3000 – discovered Phantogram – the duo of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter – in 2010, when he heard “Mouthful of Diamonds” on an internet popup ad, according to Rolling Stone. When he posted the song to his website, Barthel contacted him about it, which led to collaboration on his 2012 studio album, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.” After working to produce three tracks on the album together, the magic was right for the birth of Big Grams.
"I linked up with Phantogram and it was just the chemistry while I was in L.A.," Big Boi told Rolling Stone in a 2015 interview. "I switched gears after we came off the Outkast tour, like, 'Why don't we put the [collaborative] record together?' We started working on it and it was like, 'Holy shit.' Why don't we do this first?"
Big Grams is a new-and-different vibe for both Big Boi and Phantogram – the project has a funky, experimental hip-hop feel to it, for which the trio has tapped the likes of Skrillex, 9th Wonder and Run the Jewels to create a unique blend of vocal ballad, rap and poptronica music styles. This isn’t a DJ mashup of Big Boi riffs over Phantogram melodies; this is a step into the unknown for both acts, with Barthel and Big Boi sharing the lyrical spotlight in an interesting intersection of vocal styles.
Their EP focuses on a re-imagination of The Seven Deadly Sins, as explained on their website:
“The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Cardinal Sins, are the most severe, immoral acts that poor, fallen man can commit. Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony are the transgressions that almost certainly guarantee the eternal doom of a soul. But what if these character flaws were celebrated, rather than condemned? What if you raised your symbol of self-idolatry proudly? With a trophy, even?”
And so, the seven tracks on Big Grams each speak in contrast to the context of The Seven Deadly Sins, characterizing the positive flipside to their doomsday nature. They explain each track of the album as:
Pride = “Lights On.” Maybe you just know your light shines brighter than everyone else.
Envy = “Fell in the Sun.” It could be that you realize you deserve the moon, stars and sun.
Lust = “Put it On Her.” Sometimes it’s too good to resist, and you gotta get it in.
Greed = “Goldmine Junkie.” Greed might drive you to do anything to get – and keep – the cash. It’s hard to break such a rich addiction.
Gluttony = “Born to Shine.” Some people were destined to sit at the table, but others weren’t.
Wrath = “Drum Machine.” Sometimes wrath manifests itself as a crazy beat that lets anybody who tried to come at you know what time it is.
Their album has climbed to #5 on Billboard’s US Top Rap Albums, and #9 on the US Top Alternative Albums, shether or not you’re in a sinning mood doesn’t matter – Big Grams is an intriguing intersection of mainstream talent that’s definitely worth a closer look. Catch them at Bunbury on Saturday, June 4th at 7pm, and grab this preview of their latest music before you come – it’ll put some gangster pep in your step, or whatever the cool kids are saying sweet music does these days.
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