Before pressing play on Big Boi and Sleepy Brown’s collaborative album The Big Sleepover, consider its title. The concept of the album is intended to be a sultry affair, full of sex rhymes and seductive anthems — and they deliver, but it might not be exactly what fans of The Dungeon Family legends are seeking.
The album starts off strong with the reggae-infused banger “The Big Sleep Is Over” featuring Jamaican artist Kay-I and subsequent slapper “Lower Case (no cap),” which piles on one of four generous helpings of Killer Mike. But not even 10 minutes into the 48-minute effort, the excitement for lyrical gems from one-half of the celebrated Outkast duo steadily wanes as it becomes painfully clear he’s grasping for material when he begins to rap about the” birds and the bees” on “Animalz.” In addition to the hook, Sleepy Brown also provides a string of lackluster bars such as, “You’re delectable/Treat you like an edible/Oh-so sexual/Oh-so sexual/I just want a taste.”
While the song’s funky, electro-tinged production is enough to warrant a few head nods, the fact two men in their late 40s and early 50s with enough life experience to write a novel fall back on such lazy subject matter is baffling. It feels like a missed opportunity to kick some knowledge to the younger generation perhaps just stumbling onto The Dungeon Family collective for the first time.
As the album struggles to find its rhythm, it hits a speed bump on “Can’t Sleep” when it slows down to a snail’s pace, although the slinky cut does contain one of the most infectious hooks on the project with Sleepy Brown and longtime collaborator Debra Killings singing, “Last night, can’t sleep/Girls keep callin’ me/This girl keep callin’ me/She keep on partyin’, yeah/Last night, can’t sleep.”
“Intentions,” a sultry R&B number, brings another Dungeon Family member into the mix when CeeLo Green shows up, his inimitable voice momentarily stealing the show. “In U” almost feels like it could be used in a Saturday Night Live skit, akin to Justin Timberlake and The Lonely Island’s “Dick In A Box” — the lyrics are that ridiculous. “I’m all up in you, yeah/I’m all into you, baby/I’m all up in you, yeah/I’m all into you, baby, yeah,” Sleepy Brown croons in all seriousness.
Then, just when it seems there’s no hope for the album’s initial energy to return, “Sucka Free” storms in like a tsunami and provides arguably the best bassline on the album with its light piano notes floating along the crest. Coupled with Killer Mike’s laser-sharp rhyming, it’s a risk-free formula for success (although Mike does briefly rest on cheap filler such as “I’m a romantic, baby, I wanna grow old together (I do)/But I’m a savage, baby, we gotta fuck hoes together (One or two).”
Even so, Mike acts as the glue on “Return Of The Dope Boi” and the anthemic Organized Noize remix “We Are The Ones” with Big Rube and CeeLo. The latter track provides a much-welcomed respite from the raunchy sex raps that permeate the album. Here, they take a page from Killer Mike’s playbook and confront socio-political issues plaguing America, finally offering a taste of that hard-won wisdom that’s so noticeably absent.
“My sermon is for the children,” Big Boi raps with conviction. “And for the mommas and the daddies that ain’t earnin’/Now CVSs burnin’/But that’s just superficial on the surface/The people up in arms ’cause they killin’ us on purpose/And now they pray for calm ’cause America is nervous.”
But just like that, school is out of session and back to the subject of sex on “Do Ya Best,” which encourages a stripper to let her inner “thot” out. “Generational game is passed down,” Big Boi raps. “Boy, I feed a vegan meat but I’m no cash cow, free PETA/We need a, take a breather from all this Netflix and chillin’/Before we end up with some more children/I’m talkin’ babies of the throat or maybe it’s the dope/It’s safer than the stroke, let’s go/’Cause she’s a—”
It would be one thing if they brought any sort of wisdom or maturity to the subject — especially considering they’re both married with kids — but on “Do Ya Best,” they come off as a teacher’s intern rather than the educated veterans they are.
As The Big Sleepover comes to a close, the very skippable “Doin It” is a harsh reminder Outkast is a distant memory. While that may be an unfair comparison, it’s been proven time and time again André 3000 brings out the best in Big Boi and vice versa. Yes, Sleepy Brown and Big Boi are both Southern Hip Hop staples with their own innate musical chemistry but will never live up to the standards Outkast set as a duo. While The Big Sleepover occasionally whets the appetite, it still leaves the listener starving for the return of two dope boyz in a Cadillac.
Big Boi & Sleepy Brown – The Big Sleepover
5/10. So many delays and it's… OK?
— Eric Rates Albums (@EricRatesAlbums) December 24, 2021
The Big Sleepover (Big Boi & Sleepy Brown) is fire.
— Elmo is My Spirit Muppet. Don’t Be A Zoe or Rocko (@MadDapr) January 18, 2022
The big sleepover…. Yes! They teased that forever! I was happy they decided to finally drop it. It is a good ass vibe!
— Bury Me in the Ocean… (@CapKHunter) January 2, 2022