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Big Boi's 'search for truth'

By Gavin Godfrey, CNN Radio
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
Rapper Big Boi arrives at EA SPORTS Madden Bowl XIX at the Bud Light Hotel on January 31, 2013, in New Orleans.
Rapper Big Boi arrives at EA SPORTS Madden Bowl XIX at the Bud Light Hotel on January 31, 2013, in New Orleans.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rapper Big Boi says his latest album is a "search for truth"
  • Says there is no beef between him and fellow Outkast member Andre 3000
  • Fans have been awaiting a reunion from the pair

(CNN) -- Antwan "Big Boi" Patton considers himself a "truther."

The 37-year-old rapper, producer and one-half of the legendary hip hop group OutKast said his grandmother once told him his position as a public figure was to bring valuable information to his audience and community.

"There's facts right there in your face," Big Boi said. "They've got a cure for cancer, they've got a cure for AIDS, cure for everything, but they make so much money off the medicine you'll never see it. The people have to understand that."

CNN Soundwaves: Big Boi on Big Boi

Talking about life

According to Big Boi the average person is living an illusion and accepting false information. Hence the name of his latest solo album (he counts it as his third, calling "Speakerboxxx" his actual first album), "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors," which he has called an overall "search for truth."

Released via Def Jam, "VLADR" is a follow-up to Big Boi's 2010 release, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty," and comes from a title his grandmother had for her (planned?) autobiography in which she would air the family's dirty laundry.

Big Boi's latest musical effort is his way of exposing himself and the world around him. "I'm talking about life," he said of the 14-track disc (17 if you nabbed the deluxe version). "Some people don't get that because they're so numb to what the mainstream media is pumping into their head with these reality shows and a certain type of song that's played 1,000 times on the radio every day and I refuse to do that."

So what did he do?

If you were to ask the music critics, Big Boi just released his most complete work to date and the closest fans will get (for now) to an OutKast album in terms of it's boldness in sound and creative risks.

But before Big Boi could ever move forward carving out his legacy, he had to shake an old stigma from his past.

'The player and the poet'

Shortly after the success of their first hit single, "Player's Ball" in 1993, Big Boi and his partner-in-rhyme Andre 3000 were dubbed "the player and the poet," with Patton playing the role of the former. Through marketing and promotion, Big Boi was cast as the bad boy, while Andre was the thoughtful, creative one.

Big Boi maintains that he has never liked the moniker.

"Everybody thought I was just a DBoy. I'm just selling dope and getting laid all day," he said. "I think when they put that title on it people kind of took it and ran with it."

OutKast went on to sell more than 20 million records, earning multiple Grammys, including album of the year in 2004, and the group has since been hailed as creative geniuses and one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time.

Search for truth

While "VLADR" has a lot of George Clinton-style funk and features indie rockers Phantogram and Little Dragon, it also carries the political punch of Public Enemy, with songs like "Shoes for Running," which some might say borders on conspiracy theory.

One of the track's opening lines is: "I wish they could send me to the moon and back with a cure for cancer and save the lives of my great grandmomma and great granddaddy now that's the answer to the question/ but they make money off the medicine leaving us all stuck in elections with no progressions just recessions."

And so back to that whole "truther" thing, which Big Boi said is just his taking the time to find information and share it with anyone who will listen. He is also quick to strike down the conspiracy theorist label.

"I mean its drone strikes, United States killing kids overseas every day, they're not telling you about that," he said. "Why not? Are our kids' lives more valuable than the ones' overseas? A child is a child. These are facts. There's no conspiracy in this."

Best friends

Another theory Big Boi finds himself dealing with is the status of OutKast and his relationship with Andre 3000. There was the whole Gillette "diss" and the apology Andre 3000 made to Big Boi via T.I.'s "I'm Sorry."

Or could it just be the fact that since, really, 2000's "Stankonia," the duo has more or less not made an album together?

If you listen carefully, Big Boi addresses the matter on "VLADR," but he doesn't hold back if asked about it, either.

"People don't know or they don't catch all of the interviews and then (there's) all the sensational headlines, but you've got to really understand that me and Dre have a relationship that's bigger than music," he said. "We're best friends. Music just came along because it's what we're put here to do and what God brought us together to do. But that's my brother; you know what I'm saying? There's no beef, no nothing."

In fact, not one song made it to the final cut of "VLADR" without a listen from Andre 3000, Big Boi said.

Verbal exercises

Fans and the Internet were abuzz when word got out Big Boi and Dre would be "reuniting" for Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter," and T.I.'s I'm Sorry," both tracks that already featured Andre 3000.

In a text message, Big Boi responded to the idea of these songs being OutKast reunions. "They aren't," he wrote. "I'm just verbally exercising."

To the folks calling for a new OutKast album, Big's answer is, well, honest.

"If we did records like what I'm doing right now, if I go so deep y'all will never get an OutKast album," he said. "We ain't excited about doing an OutKast album because people ain't going to understand it."

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