Various Artists - Big Boi Presents... Got Purp? Vol II

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(Virgin/EMI)

Big Boi presents Got Purp II but more importantly presents Purple Ribbon Entertainment, a subdivision of Virgin Records but more importantly a collective of mostly Georgian based hip hop, soul & rnb artists and a solid platform in which to promote them. Big Boi is said to have been highly influenced by Antonio Reid and Babyface who originally signed Outkast to their Atlanta based operation LaFace, LaFace was eventually sold to Arista Records nearly 5 years ago and it seems like Purple Ribbon is set to fill the void for the South and provide a more soul & funk based approach to artists and releases than the straight up Krunk that Lil Jon and the Southside Boys have been making Atlanta famous for lately.

Whilst the operation is headed by hip hopper Big Boi and features Bubba Sparxx, Killer Mike & Konkrete, the diversity of the label is demonstrated with the disco and soul stylings of Janelle Monae, Sleepy Brown & Scar. For such talented vocalists, I think it’s insulting to give them the tracks they were provided with to record. Scar has an excellent voice but I would have liked to see him take on something a little more challenging than U Got Me!! Which sounds more like a boy band pop hit than something suited to his impressively versatile voice, it almost sounds like a camp version of D’Angelo with a dash of exaggeratedly joyful Christianity. That or music you would hear the band playing in the Cabaret section of a P&O Cruise ship. Similarly is Janelle Monae’s Time Will Reveal, this is where the N*Sync pop beats reach an all new ridiculous height, for fucks sake the woman should be singing Minnie Ripperton or Natalie Cole and they’ve pretty much put her over a Crazy Frog beat.

Hip hop wise, not everyone gets into the style of the South, the production on the hip hop side of things can be somewhat clinical and the Crunkesque tempos become repetitive, at the end of the day it is still quintessential gangster rap tailored to Atlanta, so if that’s not what you’re into then chances are you won’t get into this album. Then again I found it more accessible than most popular music of the region, probably because it wasn’t overtly Crunk and it wasn’t Lil Jon screaming like a banshee. The omission of Andre 3000 is ever apparent; the record is much more controlled and less erratic, and it feels much more like a Big Boi Studio record than the haphazard resonance of Outkast, then again Bombs over Baghdad shits all over anything on this record so it’s a double edged sword.

Bubba Sparxx is relatively boring with Claremont Lounge, and is only further shamed when the Goodie Mob drop in for Hold On and instantly remind us what delivery and flow are all about. Big Boi is reasonably forgettable and Killer Mike, who features on the majority of the hip hop content, failed to give me any line that impressed me or that I remembered. The actual songs tended just to blend into each other.

And on top of all this it is so heavily copyright protected that it comes with its own software to play it, you have to agree to a User License Agreement when you put it in your computer, there are FBI warnings plastered on the case and it doesn’t appear to be compatible with iPod technology. No doubt a result of the Apple Computers vs the Record Companies debacle concerning the 99 price tag on iTunes Music and their refusal to pardon companies from contracts or increase the price. So basically it’s all a bit of a pain in the ass and a bit of a non event. I give Big Boi credit for being business savvy enough to realise the void in the current Georgian market and seizing the opportunity to capitalise on it and look after his artists but the hip hop is unremarkable and the soul singers are not being done any justice. Buy at your own risk.

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