Trippy, disco vibes meet rap hooks and celestial female vocals. Yes, this is the sum total of the delectable collaboration between Big Boi and Phantogram, who combine to forge the really cool fusion that is Big Grams. Finally, this seven-tracker has dropped, and it is a pretty decent merger, especially as both acts have enjoyed successful careers on separate terms, so an intertwining could either have been risky or wholly awesome. Don’t fret – it’s the latter.
Kicking off with Run for Your Life, a bombastic but mellow hit, it’s clear that Big Grams is going to be fairly electric in both delivering and result. This initial song is more modest demi-rap than it is the trance-pop that we’re accustomed to with Phantogram, so the next track, Lights On is one totally non-Big Boi in nature, by contrast. Instead of angelic tones coating the entire track, the drum machine offers a solid beat and one that lays claim to Big Boi’s heritage. The chap himself peppers the piece with some hip-hop weight during the latter portion, which sounds great, but this isn’t so much a duet inasmuch as it is more a remix of a typical Phantogram offering. So, I think this might get some mixed opinions, simply because it isn’t necessarily both outfits aligning in fair harmony.
Sleazy, luxe beats then burst in as Fell in the Sun starts. Big Boi is wildly smooth here, with sturdy raps meshing with the soft female “oohs” that wash in behind. This is a massive hit and one that is easy to groove to. Its fluidity is indulgent and has a very grandiose vibe about it; if this isn’t one to pop Dom Pérignon to on a glittering LA terrace, I don’t know what is. Oh, this is such a winner! Another with really dazzling pace and captivating verses is Put It on Her. Big Boi spits seamlessly and the synthesis of both collaborators is bold and vibrant, with superbly complementing saxophone jingles. Goldmine Junkie is similar again, with another funky beat.
But, it’s the final two pieces that have some additional perks; Born to Shine enlists rap giants, Run the Jewels, whilst the very aptly titled Drum Machine has received some very obvious help from Skrillex. Born to Shine is full of swagger (for want of a less irritating word) and bragging rights, with a really rich American sound to it, making it a firm favourite – not least because of Run the Jewels’ assistance. Meanwhile, Drum Machine is fun, with a bizarrely Fast and Furious-esque Latino feel to it, but perhaps slightly outside this pair’s usual blueprint trajectory. However, these seven tracks exude chic sophistication, and I can’t get enough.
If you only download one track, let it be either: ‘Fell in the Sun’ or ‘Born to Shine ft. Run the Jewels’