Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Big Grams – Fell in the Sun

And we close all-collab Thursday with a guy we like and a group we don’t hate.


Katherine St Asaph: The Big Grams album is being hyped so hard you’d think it was fucking Watch the Throne. Everything about it, from concept to sound, is designed not to bang but to shill, specifically to shill the idea that Phantogram is iconic and Sarah Barthel is a rising star. (Though it did provide the world with the greatest PR quote of the year, swerve into obvious falsity aside: “Big Boi, a true music fan of all genres, was surfing the web and trying to close some pop-up ads when Phantogram’s “Mouthful of Diamonds” started auto-playing. Taken aback by its sound, Big Boi stopped what he was doing to Shazam the track to figure out who it was.”) Big Boi is actually iconic, but he’s made neither the focus of the song nor the super in the group; judging a band by its cover art is lazy as hell, but it’s nevertheless telling that all the promo photos have him kinda in the background. Are we seriously at the point in the 2015 music spindustry where a member of Outkast coming off a huge event album and reunion tour has to have his album hitched to fucking Phantogram? Right, the song: certainly expensive, even sumptuous when it’s Antwan on lead; but falls short of having a soul.

Alfred Soto: Weaved into the mix with unusual fluency, the horns support instead of embellish. This collaboration between Big Boi and Phantogram works at this minor level of skill and inspiration: no one reaches a new peak, but, like Chance the Rapper’s Donnie Trumpet work, the track remains an aural pleasure anyway. Sarah Barthel, who dominates the track, helps. So does Boi having his way with lines like “I whip the yellow Cadillac/ I like my seats way back/I bust the sunroof open/beams hit the Braves cap.”

Thomas Inskeep: Goddamn, I miss OutKast, but this is the closest thing we’ve gotten in years and you better believe I’ll take it. Phantogram whip up a track that sounds like it could’ve come from the Andre 3000 side of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (a clever twist), before Big Boi spits verses atop in his worn-in-hoodie-comfortable ATL cadence. When he says “aw, yeah, talk about a Vitamin D overdose” before the last chorus, I’m taken right back to the days of “Players Ball.” And holy shit Sarah Barthel’s chorus vocals here are gorgeous. Everything’s working. This might be my favorite hip-hop single of the year.

Iain Mew: For the most part it sounds a lot like a Phantogram single. Shifting away from their cut-up intensity for intervals of something different works to make their bits sound even more heightened when they come, though. I don’t know if it works out as well for Big Boi, but he excels at taking the limited opportunities provided.

Edward Okulicz: Everything about this is perfectly pleasant and competent, and the dull throb of the bass has some of the same hazy oppression as looking up at the sun. But this drags — its two short Big Boi verses are fine but not very dextrous or interesting,  and the chorus is a big floaty nothing.

Jonathan Bogart: I didn’t know who Big Grams were the first time I listened to it, and apart from thinking that the rapper sounded like someone I really loved but who, I thought it was perfectly pleasant blissed-out indie-pop. Finding out that it was Big Boi (well of course) and Phantogram (I’ve, um, heard the name) didn’t fundamentally change how I heard it; I just like it a little better because I have more affection for Big Boi than for an unknown who sounds like Big Boi.

Reader average: [6.5] (2 votes)

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4 Responses to “Big Grams – Fell in the Sun”

  1. i waited all day for the maxwell zero ™! no maxwell zero ™! October 8, 2015? not in my life!

  2. I’m with Katherine and Edward here. This is total ¯\_(?)_/¯

  3. trash
    if people really wanted to disprove my theory that gay n*zis are real
    they wouldn’t allow scores of 6.83 to hip-hoppers(opera voice) who look like:×300.jpg

  4. every time i see “Big Grams” — which ain’t often, I’m a good curator — i hear “wonder who they hatin’ on lately, baby it’s him”