Many of the guest appearances on Big Boi's second solo album -- his third if you count Speakerboxxx -- were not expected. Most of them qualify as inharmonious experiments. A chance encounter with Phantogram, facilitated by a music identification application, led to three of these songs. On "CPU," the most awkward one of the bunch, Phantogram fashion their hazy dream pop into low-wattage EDM, their feathery chorus disconnected from Big Boi's verses. The MC likewise sounds more like the guest on the loopy Wavves collaboration "Shoes for Running"; it's more of a mismatch than his spot on Carlos Santana's "My Man." Consecutive tracks with Little Dragon fare somewhat better. The creeping "Thom Pettie," in which Big Boi is the dominant voice, is a highlight, while "Mama Told Me," co-written by the beloved Swedish hybrid group, is pleasant enough but more of a light robo-funk platform for lead singer Kelly Rowland. Big Boi adapts to the unfamiliar surroundings with little effort and often sounds comfortable, but the fusions are short on power. Despite not featuring a known indie act, "Apple of My Eye," involving a co-producer and singer named Jake Troth, incorporates a tepid bopping sound. Bravest of all is "Tremendous Damage," a plaintive ballad in which Big Boi sings with deep sincerity, but one can almost hear a switch flip toward the end of the first verse, when he shifts from crooning into one of his familiar methods of delivery. The more potent tracks include the blaring/booming "In the A," featuring Big Boi and T.I. in rapid-fire mode (and Ludacris in beat-over-check-cashing mode), the offhandedly boastful and Sleepy Brown-enhanced "The Thickets," and the stirring ATL-meets-Minneapolis folk-funk closer, "Descending," yet another Little Dragon hook-up.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman