Big Boi and Sleepy Brown unveil ‘The Big Sleepover’

Atlanta musicians Big Boi (left) and Sleepy Brown release their new album "The Big Sleepover" on December 10.
Courtesy of A Miri Baraka Joint
Caption
Atlanta musicians Big Boi (left) and Sleepy Brown release their new album "The Big Sleepover" on December 10. Courtesy of A Miri Baraka Joint

Credit: A Miri Baraka Joint

Credit: A Miri Baraka Joint

The longtime collaborators recorded the new album in Atlanta.

Sultry. Funky. Smooth.

Each word applies equally to the sounds of “The Big Sleepover,” the insanely catchy new album by Atlanta legends Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, set for a December release.

New single “Animalz,” released yesterday and supported by a Nov. 17 appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” distills a bass-heavy groove and guitar stabs into a slinky elixir. The chorus sets the tone for much of the album: “You’re incredible/ We’re just sexual/ We’re just animalz/ It’s like a zoo full of animalz.” (Speaking of which, Big’s own substantial menagerie — which includes Pitfall Kennels — recently saw turmoil as his famous owls Hootie and Hoodini inadvertently got access to a 10-year-old iguana, who did not survive the encounter.)

The artists are thrilled the album’s release is finally (almost) here, as it has been sitting on the shelf since last year, yet another pandemic-related delay.

Preceding that good news has been a celebration of another kind. Diehard Atlanta sports fan Big Boi joined Ludacris for a performance at Truist Park on Nov. 5 to honor the World Series Champion Atlanta Braves, several hours after the victory parade raced out of the city and into Cobb County for the second part of the extravaganza.

“Man it was great,” enthuses Big. “The feeling was electric, and it was nothing but positive vibrations along the whole route up there at The Battery.”

Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, and Killer Mike put up an exciting show after the official ceremony of the new 2021 World Series Champions, The Atlanta Braves on Friday, November 5, 2021.
Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, and Killer Mike put up an exciting show after the official ceremony of the new 2021 World Series Champions, The Atlanta Braves on Friday, November 5, 2021. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

And in that spirit of optimism arrives “The Big Sleepover,” a long-mooted full-length collaboration between the two friends that was written, recorded and produced here in Atlanta. Big Boi has three solo albums under his belt already (the last being 2017′s “Boomiverse”), and has stayed busy on a number of musical and non-musical fronts since OutKast went on its second hiatus in late 2014.

The blend of Big’s rhymes with Sleepy’s soaring vocals on previous hits such as OutKast’s “I Like The Way You Move” teased future possibilities which are realized in full on this album overflowing with potential hits.

In addition to his music, Big Boi's diverse interests include a number of TV projects and a major kennel (Pitfall).
Courtesy of Cam Kirk
Caption
In addition to his music, Big Boi's diverse interests include a number of TV projects and a major kennel (Pitfall). Courtesy of Cam Kirk

Credit: CAMERON KIRKLAND

Credit: CAMERON KIRKLAND

“It’s always organically created, never genetically modified,” says Big about his creative partnership with Sleepy Brown. “We just get in there and let the spirit take over … just really try to push each other further than we ever went.”

Brown is also a solo artist in his own right (his most recent album came out in 2012), and is part of the city-based production team Organized Noize. His credits include co-writing TLC’s “Waterfalls,” the Billboard #1 hit from 1995 well on its way to timeless classic status.

The duo had over 20 songs in production for “The Big Sleepover,” ultimately choosing “the ones that we felt made one cohesive ride,” Big notes. “We put ‘em together and strung them along, and we came up with those 14 that are stunning.”

And they are. The sultry, funky, smooth songs include a staggering number with true singalong catchiness — the type you can picture a carload of people singing along to at full volume. From “Can’t Sleep” (“Last night/ Can’t sleep/ Girl keeps calling me”) to “Baller” to “Doin’ It,” Sleepy Brown’s chorus vocals have a natural way of inviting you to join him.

The new album from Big Boi and Sleepy Brown is called "The Big Sleepover," coming in December.
Caption
The new album from Big Boi and Sleepy Brown is called "The Big Sleepover," coming in December.

Credit: Courtesy of HITCO

Credit: Courtesy of HITCO

Big is matter of fact about how they create that magic. “It just happens like that. When you write, you just go wherever the music takes you,” he stresses. “That was key to the formula of how we make music.”

Another standout track is “Lower Case (no cap),” with a throbbing bass line and true late night Atlanta vibes. Big Boi makes sure to announce the studio where he is recording the song: “broadcasting live from Stankonia.” He’s enthusiastic about the cut. “That thunderous sound that’s gonna beat you back in,” is how he describes it. “Just really some ferocious rapping, straight lyrical ability. Yeah, you said it — that’s some of that A Town. Whether you’re in the club or riding in the car, it’s straight beat.”

Maybe the smoothest song on a record chock full of them is the piano-heavy “All You See,” two and a half minutes of pure joy: “Feel so good inside/ Man, I feel so fly/ Step outside and I’m all you see.”

Georgia’s own Big Boi (left) was one of the headliners of the ONE Musicfest celebrated at Centennial Park; he shared the stage with producer Sleepy Brown on Sunday, October 10, 2021. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Georgia’s own Big Boi (left) was one of the headliners of the ONE Musicfest celebrated at Centennial Park; he shared the stage with producer Sleepy Brown on Sunday, October 10, 2021. Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

When asked about the possibility of “All You See” being the next single, Big emphasizes that any of the tracks could be. “As far as I’m concerned, all of them are singles,” he says. “That’s why I take so long to put them together, man.”

The cohesiveness of the tracks is undoubtedly connected to how much of a true Atlanta album this is (beyond just the location of its recording and creators). Big doesn’t hesitate when asked about it: “Absolutely! It’s like the Braves, we’re the home team,” he insists. “We gotta put on for the city. It’s really the evolution of our sound since we started at the Dungeon, up until now. It’s just me and Brown, meshed together, just giving it to them.”

Fellow Atlantan and Run the Jewels stalwart Killer Mike, whose collaborations with Big Boi also go back a number of years, contributes to three tracks (with “Sucka Free” a particular highlight). Big was happy to be a recent guest on Mike’s PBS program “Love & Respect With Killer Mike,” taping the appearance (now available) in Alpharetta with his close friend.

“Just two brothers chopping it up, talking about our relationship over the years and the music,” he says about the episode. “It’s good to see Killer Mike in that space, ‘cause he’s very good at it.”

As ever, Big has a dizzying array of other projects on the go, including the kennel. He’s a savvy investor and also has a number of TV shows in the works. “I have a couple of cartoons that I’m working with as well,” he adds. “Hopefully we’ll have some stuff solidified before the end of the year. I’ve got six or seven shows with contracts on the table right now.”

Family remains important to him, as shown by his weekly fall trips to Oregon (or wherever away games take place) to see his son play football for the University of Oregon Ducks. Asked for his thoughts on spending so much time in the Pacific Northwest, Big gives his seal of approval. “Super chill spot, man. We go to all of the home games, all of the away games.”

Even holidays look to be on the road. “We’ll probably be spending Thanksgiving out there because they play Oregon State,” he acknowledges. “Our son has practice so he hasn’t been able to come home for Christmas or Thanksgiving since he’s been there. It’s a sacrifice you make as a parent, but I wouldn’t change it for nothing.”

Come 2022, Big and Sleepy will be hitting the road in support of “The Big Sleepover,” with details still pending. “We’re going to do something real key around the release,” adds Big, “and then festival season’s coming up.”

Ahead of that, the duo is justifiably proud of this Atlanta-made, Atlanta-focused record that was in the works for so long. The styles blend together perfectly. Big’s skills on the mic are world renowned for fans and critics alike. And, as he concludes: “Can’t nobody do it like Sleepy Brown, man.”