Usher has set August 16 as the start date of his U.S. tour. Although his publicist said the reigning Billboard champ is not yet announcing his outing's co-stars, another A-Town heavy-hitter has let the cat out of the bag.
"We're going on tour with Usher," Outkast's Big Boi said a few weeks ago in New York. "We're going to crank it up with Usher in August; we're supposed to be doing arenas."
Normally we would take it for granted that the "we're" he's talking about is his partner Andre 3000, but since the creator of The Love Below is getting his Denzel on in Hollywood (see "Outkast's Andre 3000 To Play Musician On The Run In First Starring Role"), Big will be hitting the road solo.
"With Dre not being there, you can't do the whole version of certain songs," Big, who's already been on the road performing spot dates, explained. "But we got a catalog so vast, I got a medley out the ass, it's so crazy! When we get out there, though, I have the band, guitar players, singers, my dancers. Then I bring a couple of guests out there, Big Gipp might come out, Killer Mike, Bubba Sparxxx, and we just rock. We do some of the stuff off the Speakerboxxx album, then do some of the old stuff, but the crowd digs it. The more energy you give them, the more they give back. But it's still nothing like being out there with Dre."
Big isn't fretting, though. He's getting plenty of time with Dre, both in and out of the studio. The two are working on an HBO original movie soon, an accompanying soundtrack and a new Outkast album.
"We will not be playing Outkast in the movie," Big said backstage at the Wango Tango On-Air festival in Pasadena, California (see "William Hung Overshadows Backstreet Reunion, All-Star Lineup At Wango Tango"). "It's set during the Prohibition era. Dre is the son of a mortician and I own a club ... it's a devilish place. It's going to be a lot of action, adventure, romance."
Although the leader of the Speakerboxxx gang won't go too in-depth about the film, he did say that Dre isn't the only member of the ATLiens who loves to act.
"We started the acting coaching, so far it has been good," he said. "I been trying to get into that character mode, although it's not been that hard because it's kinda similar to the real-life character. It's a lot of fun, I'm looking forward to shooting it."
Dre and Big Boi have already begun work on the next Outkast album. The duo have returned to their roots for the LP, working with their original production team.
"You gonna get two albums within the next 365 days. The soundtrack [to the movie] will be released in May , it's gonna be all brand-new songs, me and Dre on one CD together," he said. "But before we put the soundtrack out, we're going to put another album out this November. It's gonna be a hardcore album, me and Dre letting Organized Noize produce the whole album. I can't give you the title of it yet, but it's coming together nicely. It's going to be a lot of MCing and a little bit of other stuff. But a lot of MCing. Think about what I'm saying — MCing! He's back."
Although Outkast have two new LPs on the cooker, they're not done with Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below. They want to drop two more singles to follow up "Roses" but don't have any concrete choices. The tracks "Prototype," "Ghetto Musick," "The Rooster" and "Church" have all come up in discussions.