With the golden era of the Dungeon Family gone, Big Boi’s riding on with his new label Purple Ribbon. But is there a lane for a second generation of Atlanta’s “weirdo type funk shit?”
I usually hit the office around one o’clock, listen to music, pick singles, go over budgets, photo shoots, the whole nine yards. Then after I leave the office, the recording studio Stankonia is across the street so at about eight or nine, I clock out and boom—I’m in work mode.”
Big Boi, one half of Outkast, Antwan Patton—General Patton—sits by his pool in the Fayeteville, GA house that he’s lived in for the last eight years as a boggy summer night hunkers down. His wife’s two pits run the length of the fence beneath the porch that extends from the infamous Boom Boom Room, water spills from the hot tub into the pool, and Big works his way through another Black N’ Mild filter tip. “God givin’ that my mind is clear, I can go in the studio and pump out some shit,” he continues. “Whether it be a track or lyrics—whatever for whoever—I stay in the studio from nine at night to five in the morning. Then I come home, sleep till noon, and do it all over again.” These days, Big Boi deals with business—the new record label venture through Virgin Records called Purple Ribbon—and music—the product that Purple Ribbon is set up to move.
There’s also films, appearances, meetings, travel and leisure, too, but really everything spills into everything else, and what’s left when it’s all boiled down is the music and the establishment of the infrastructure needed to sell it. “First we had Aquemini,” Big Boi says in reference to the first label he started with Andre 3000, his partner in Outkast. “But nobody really knew how much work it would take, so after the first couple years Dré was like, ‘Uh… I don’t really wanna do the record company thing—you can go on and have that.’ So I was like, ‘Okay cool,’ you know? One thing I’m not is a quitter. I got the champion spirit, and shit—I’m still goin strong for ’em.”
By “them,” of course, Big Boi means the artists signed to Purple Ribbon—Killer Mike, Bubba Sparxxx, Sleepy Brown, an R&B singer called Scar and a group called Konkrete. The plan is to jumpstart the label with Killer’s Mike’s second album Ghetto Extraordinary, follow with a label-wide compilation, and then start introducing new music by Bubba, Sleepy and so forth. As the first mixtapes drop and the release of Ghetto Extraordinary approaches, there’s a tense excitement among the handful of employees and artists who pass through the label’s offices. Even though we got two albums/ This one feels like the beginning, Big Boi rapped on “Y’all Scared” in 1998. In 2005, after five albums, a greatest hits record and countless accolades, it feels like the beginning again, all over again.