Outkast are one of rap's best, so it's comforting to know that the group's slow dismantlement hasn't rendered rappers André 3000 and Big Boi obsolete. While the former surfaces only for Gillette ad campaigns and the occasional thrilling guest verse, Big Boi's charted a more typical course by actually releasing records.
His solo work continues in Outkast's progressive tradition without straying into unrecognizable territory. Like 2010's Sir Luscious Leftfoot, the funky, pop-sculpted Vicious Lies is helped along by a bunch of interesting collaborations. Some are questionable, like Kid Cudi and B.o.B., or nonsensical. (Who wants to hear Wavves on a Big Boi record?) But he has chemistry with pop duo Phantogram and Swedish quirksters Little Dragon, particularly their singer, Yukimi Nagano, who appears throughout the record. On the deluxe edition's cavernous, groovy Higher Res, she's alongside mysterious British singer Jai Paul.
The disparate guest list means the record lacks some cohesion, but Big Boi - ambitious, effusive and still a remarkably lithe rapper - holds it all together.
Top track: In The A, featuring T.I. and Ludacris