Sasha Frere-Jones reports, in the current New Yorker, on Big Boi’s new album. The author has a lot of praise for the music but he also devotes a lot of attention to the curious business decisions of the record label to which Big Boi (and Outkast, his duo with Andre 3000) is signed. This part of the the story is quite interesting. I quote liberally:
The case of the Atlanta rapper Big Boi, who makes up half of the duo OutKast, doesn’t make sense from the viewpoint of the music fan, or the cold-eyed investor. OutKast, though on hiatus, has sold more than seventeen million albums, more than all but a handful of other acts in hip-hop. So why did Big Boi’s label, Jive, decline to release his new solo album, “Sir Lucious Left Foot . . . The Son of Chico Dusty”? The album, out now on Def Jam, is one of the best rap records of the year, full of vitality and bounce, an outcome that wasn’t hard to predict.
The confusion began in 2004, with corporate restructuring, when OutKast moved from their home with Arista to the Jive records umbrella. After four critically successful albums, they had just released their biggest record ever, “Speakerboxxx / The Love Below,” a double CD…
… André has promised a solo album, as well as another OutKast album, but Big Boi is making that event seem less relevant. His tensions with Jive reached their peak in 2008, when the label found “Sir Lucious” to be “a piece of art,” and pressured Big Boi and André to produce a genuine OutKast album instead of focussing on their solo work. Big Boi responded by taking his solo album to Def Jam. After he had switched labels, Jive prevented Big Boi from including a track called “Lookin’ for Ya,” which features André rapping.