Big Boi : London Camden Electric Ballroom

Can Big Boi cut the mustard without side order of Andre?...

For too long Big Boi has been the bastard stepchild of genre-bending hip hop duo, [a]Outkast[/a]. However, now Andre 3000 has decided he can’t be arsed to tour, it’s down to his oft-overshadowed partner in rhyme to subvert the stereotype of hurried, half-assed hip hop show with a brilliant one-off gig.

Tonight Big Boi rewrites the rap rulebook by shunning the T & A typically on display and instead employs a male quartet of break-neck-break-dancers to speed-wiggle to the soul-shaking mind-spinning 16 song set – and they’re ace. Sweat flies and booty’s quake as light-fingered DJ Cutmaster Swift beat-juggles the freakadelics of ‘Bust’ and ‘So Fresh, So Clean.’ Goodie Mob’s T-Mo and hook-meister Sleepy Brown are also on hand to help fill the stage and the sonics.

Centre-stage of the shenanigans is the man himself, looking to all intents and purposes like a proper hip hop star, albeit one who dispenses with the mike-mumbling and groin-grabbing of his contemporaries. Decked head to toe in camo gear, shades on and cap pulled low, Big Boi’s unbridled energy explodes about the stage to the pimped-out P-Funk of ‘The Rooster’, before segueing smoothly into ‘Stankonia’ smash ‘Ms. Jackson’.

“Do y’all wanna hear so’ mo funky ass rhymes and so’ mo funky ass beats,” he wonders rhetorically before almost getting upstaged by roly-poly rhymer [a]Bubba Sparxxx[/a]. “Anyone with two eyes can see I’m a pretty motherfucker,” Blubber grins, whipping off his shirt, “but y’all are fuckin’….” Cue: belly roll and lots of arse-crack exposure timed to coincide with the big man’s biggest hit ‘Ugly’.

Big Boi returns to scene-steal with the wily wordplay of ‘Da Art Of Storytelling’ from the duo’s 1998 romper Aquemini but this crowd want the big hits. Once the manic mayhem of sick-trigger trembler ‘Ghetto Musick’ rips through the air, the beers and ‘bows fly as the chaotic chorus threatens to smash the speakers. The propulsive snare-kicks of current single ‘The Way You Move’ highlights Big Boi’s verbal acrobatics; his furious staccato rides the rollicking rhythms without once dropping a word. Saving the big guns for the encore; the ever-apt ‘BOB (Bombs Over Baghdad)’ provides a final firecracking burst of energy to send the half-cut audience on their merry way home.

While the sumptuous symphonies of Andre’s ‘Love Below’ (namely ‘Hey Ya!’) are no undoubtedly missed, the man his mama named Antwan Patton effortlessly proves that the worlds most famous hip hop duo is truly a band of two halves.

Hattie Collins