By now, if you’ve only even mildly paid attention to music news over the past few weeks, you’ll have seen a new, yet familiar name floating around. Big Grams. The mash-up of long time friends Big Boi and Phantogram. The pairing may come as a surprise to some, but they revealed in a recent Rolling Stone interview that they’re as close as can be. Over for dinner with the fam close.
The EP begins with a pairing of tracks orchestrated to ease listeners into the idea of this new phenomenon. “Run For Your Life” finds Big Boi in the driver’s seat as Sarah Barthel provides a beautiful hook — more like a Phantogram feature on a Big Boi track. “Lights On” reverses roles as if to give one to the Phantogram fans out there. By the time “Fell In the Sun” comes up, their high-energy single, you’re more than ready for more.
There was a moment during my subway perusing of reddit that I found my finger hovering over my screen as my eyes drifted, unfocused. While listening to “Goldmine Junkie,” I stopped to acknowledge as a long time Phantogram listener, that this is the most interesting I’ve heard Sarah’s voice. Her and Big Boi have a playful exchange that is just so sexy. I haven’t heard her speak-sing before and her sultry voice is apparently perfect for it. Big Boi rap-singing to the melody of the piano is also a twinkling highlight.
When listening to “Born to Shine” it really hits me how natural this collaboration really is. Neither artist sounds out of their element. Producer and other half of Phantogram, Josh Carter, does a magnificent job at accentuating his partner’s voice while sculpting the perfect path for Big Boi. This track also sees the album’s first feature from Run the Jewels and once again, a moment that could’ve seemed out of place fits perfectly in the flow of this EP.
Then comes the official blending of styles during “Drum Machine” featuring Skrillex. It’s the clearest blend of Sarah’s voice, with the deepest of ATL trap, mixed with Skrillex coming in from left field to add to the craziness. It’s not my favorite track, but this song isn’t prescribed for quiet, seated listening. It’s crafted as a club banger, and a banger it will be.
All in all, unlike recent collab projects to come out of late (*cough* Drake/Future, Miley/Flaming Lips), Big Grams is refreshing and not forced in the least. Each song is crafted beautifully for each voice on the record and makes you wonder where this combo was all your life. Look out for them on a mini tour this fall, and stream the EP below.