Put on your helmet and grab a bottle of Gatorade, because apparently we're headed into the future -- at least if new Vocoder-heavy tracks by both Big Boi and Kendrick Lamar are any indication.
In a sort of bicoastal conversation connected by the synthesized robotic voice of the Vocoder -- an AutoTune precursor best known for its use in funk classics by Roger Troutman and Zapp (and Snoop's "Sensual Seduction") -- the Atlanta-based Big Boi released "Mama Told Me" on Tuesday morning. It arrived half a day after Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar, in collaboration with producer/headphone magnate Dr. Dre, honored their neighborhood with a new song called, simply, "Compton."
Big Boi is best known as half of the rap team Outkast with Andre 3000, and the duo was behind some of the catchiest hip-hop hits of the last 15 years, including "Ms. Jackson," "The Way You Move" and "Rosa Parks." On Nov. 13, the rapper will release the follow-up to his remarkable 2010 solo album, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty," called "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors." The new album will feature "Mama Told Me," and the song's release certainly ratchets up the anticipation.
As catchy as a classic Outkast collaboration, "Mama Told Me" features a Kelly Rowland hook that weaves through a wobbly, melodic rhythm. Big Boi illustrates why he's one of the most mellifluous rappers in hip-hop by offering floating verses that move through the measures like sing-along bouncing balls. He name-checks Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Free Falling," Jordache jeans and Nike Air Jordans, among others around the pop culture spectrum, and when Rowland arrives her instantly humable hook locks the track in place.