Musician Big Boi reflects on MLK, ESPN, the Falcons, his solo albums and the future of OutKast

Actor/rapper Big Boi on the First Take set. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Actor/rapper Big Boi on the First Take set. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

BE190795-DF68-4DAE-8409-F3CBED0AFC00ESPN’s First Take recently welcomed rapper Big Boi, who rose to fame as one half of the Grammy-winning duo OutKast and has had continued success as a solo artist, to its Bristol, Conn. debate desk.

The Atlanta native, born Antwan Patton, joined Cari Champion, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith to discuss, among other things, the Falcons’ NFL playoff prospects.

With partner Andre 3000 in OutKast, Big Boi has performed on and produced several critically acclaimed records including the 2003 release Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year. His latest solo effort is Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.

Prior to appearing on First Take, he spoke to Front Row about ESPN, his ongoing tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King through his recordings, his hopes for his hometown Falcons and the future of OutKast.

What brings you to Bristol and First Take?
I just got a call. “We want you to come up and meet Cari, Skip and Stephen A.” I (came) to represent Atlanta. I want to be the voice of the city. It was an open invitation and I said, yes, I’m with it.

How often do you watch the show?
Every day. That and SportsCenter. I keep it on in my game room all the time.

What does Dr. King’s legacy mean to you?
On all three of my solo albums, I’ve always started recording them on Dr. King’s birthday [Jan. 15; the holiday this year is observed Monday, Jan. 21]. It’s always been my lucky day. From Speakerboxxx [released in conjunction with Andre 3000’s work on the same album], to Sir Lucious Leftfoot to this one, I’ve started on Dr. King’s birthday. And I’m about to start another one. I like to record songs, and he’s inspiring to me.

At end of the song In The A (featuring appearances by Ludacris and fellow First Take guest debater T.I.), you have audio of some motivational speaking. Who is it and why do you have it on that song?
It’s this pastor named David Manning. He’s from New York and that particular thing that he said resonated, about [kids] shouldn’t just practice fun things [like sports], but they should give that kind of focus on hard things [like academics] that need effort and commitment. It was a little message. I like to sprinkle little things in there for kids to listen to. . . [kids] can still have fun, but you’ve got to hunker down sometimes.

What’s next for OutKast?
It’s top secret. We’ll announce it when it’s time. But this is our 20-year anniversary. I know, right? But we started out when were 15, 16 years old.