“You just gotta keep your eyes peeled. I’m everywhere, man.” A pressed-for-time Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, one-half of the best-selling, multiple Grammy-winning duo OutKast, made sure to express that point as he leaves Park Tavern in midtown Atlanta, en route back to his recording facility, Stankonia Studios.
The exceptional, sonorous-voiced entertainer, producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist had taken a few minutes from marathon sessions for his as-yet titled third solo LP to receive PepsiCo’s Champion the Dream award. Just before Big Boi heads towards the exit, the rapper responsible for the albums Sir Lucious Left Foot…Son of Chico Dusty (2010) and Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (2012) shares minimal details about the highly-anticipated project.
“It’s coming,” Big Boi declares 24 hours prior to his cameo appearance on the Fox musical drama Star. “The single drops April 3rd. It’s a lot of surprises.”
Since the arrival of OutKast’s 1994 debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Big Boi has proactively utilized the fruits of his labors to improve the quality of life for young people. The Savannah, Georgia native’s nonprofit Big Kidz Foundation is celebrating its first decade providing youth with exposure to musical, literary and culturally rich programming.
A gracious yet husky-toned Big Boi says his crusade to open kids’ eyes to new perspectives stems from his deceased aunt, Renee Patton. The first generation Dungeon Family member endowed a scholarship in her name at his alma mater, Tri-Cities High School.
To date, Big Boi, who also has a line of socks called Left Foot by Big Boi, has awarded five scholarships. Receiving the trophy from PepsiCo is a humbling moment for Big Boi, taking him back to the beginning of OutKast’s career in the early-‘90s.
“I just wanted to expand the minds of the youth and show ‘em different things,” he says with his cool Southern accent upon being handed a microphone. “I learned how big the world was when me and André 3000 started traveling.”
In addition to previously collaborating with the Atlanta Ballet, holding down a DJ residency in Vegas, and forming the supergroup Big Grams alongside Phantogram, Big Boi concentrates on taking strides to eradicate animal cruelty. The lifelong dog lover co-owns a 25-acre breeding facility, Pitfall Kennels (or Unbelievabull Frenchies), along with his brother, James.
The business specializes in American Bullies, English Bulldogs and Frenchies. Initially started to nurse stray dogs and injured pets back to health, Big Boi’s canine breeding grounds have been sought after by celebrities including Serena Williams, Usher, Lloyd Banks, DJ Khaled, the late Earth, Wind & Fire frontman Maurice White and The Roots keyboardist Kamal Gray.
Big Boi’s loyalty to man’s best friend recently morphed into yet another venture: dog shampoo. The owner of two Rottweilers now co-owns Big Boi and Bobbi, a fur and skin care line for pets, with entrepreneur Bobbi Panter. The essential oil-based shampoo provides a longer, more moist and fresher shelf life than standard dog grooming products.
Despite Big Boi’s rapid-fire comments and urgency to return to his creative inner sanctum, he acknowledges his Big Kidz Foundation team and trial-and-error over the last two decades for molding him into the enterprising, constantly evolving person he has become.
“I knew that the world was bigger than your block, avenue or where you stay,” the gravelly ATL and Who’s Your Caddy? performer declares as “Da Art of Storytellin’” fades in and out. “You can broaden people’s horizons and wake them up.”
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