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Not My Job: We Quiz Big Boi On Professional Moving Services

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

In March of this year, we all went to Atlanta to do our show in front of 5,000 people at the beautiful Fox Theatre, but it became clear quite quickly that it was the wrong time for togetherness. So instead, we did our show in front of 5,000 empty seats.

BILL KURTIS: At least we had an excuse when no one laughed at our jokes. But we also missed hanging out with hip-hop superstar Big Boi and had to settle for talking to him on the phone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

SAGAL: And now the game where amazing people are asked about pretty dull subjects. It's called Not My Job. Back in 1995, the hip-hop world was divided into two camps. There was the East Coast and West Coast. Then, at that year's Source Awards, two guys from Atlanta called OutKast got up to the podium and said, the South has something to say. Big Boi, a founder of OutKast, is also a superstar as a solo artist. He still lives here in Atlanta, joins us now.

Big Boi, welcome to WAIT WAIT.

BIG BOI: Hey, hey. How y'all doing?

SAGAL: We're doing great. We're doing great.

BIG BOI: Good to hear, brother. Good to hear.

SAGAL: We're feeling safe. So you were pretty young when your career took off. Was that, like, weird, or you - were you ready for it? You were, like - what? - 20 years old.

BIG BOI: We started, like, teenagers, you know. So we were, like, 18 years old, and things took off. By the time we were 19, we had a platinum album. I was just, you know, excited to be able to do what I love to do, which is make music. And for the world to receive it how they received it, it was great.

SAGAL: I'm sure that was amazing. But I'm also interested in what was the first cool thing you bought.

BIG BOI: The first cool thing I bought.

SAGAL: Yes.

BIG BOI: It was two things. It was - I bought a Lexus - '93 Lexus GS 300.

SAGAL: Nice.

BIG BOI: And then me and Andre invested into some beat machines and keyboards, and we started, you know, producing as well.

SAGAL: Yeah, that - now, you guys went from being artists to, as you say, producers here in Atlanta. And I wanted to ask you about that thing that I think it was Andre said at that Source Awards, that you guys represented, like, Southern hip-hop. Is there a voice? Is there a style? Is there something that you guys were doing nobody else was doing?

BIG BOI: I think it was - you know, in the South, it was always considered to be not taken serious as lyricists, you know? And we were really all about lyricism. So they were drawn to the country drawl, the way we talk. You know, we talk slow. You know what I mean? But at the same time, we rap fast...

SAGAL: (Laughter).

BIG BOI: ...And very eloquently.

SAGAL: I'm just going to say this. You guys became so big that, like, a lot of white people really liked you...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...Which is - you know?

BIG BOI: Yeah.

SAGAL: And was that, like - was that cool, or was that like, oh, no?

BIG BOI: No. It was basically like, we want everybody that can dig the music to dig it. You know what I'm saying?

SAGAL: Yeah.

BIG BOI: White, brown, Black, yellow, green - it don't matter. You know, we got, like, two generations, almost three generations of fans right now that's been following our careers for 20-something years now, so...

SAGAL: I guess I need to ask for your, as you say, generations of fans, any chance there's going to be an OutKast reunion, you're going to do another album together?

BIG BOI: You've got to talk to the Lord.

SAGAL: OK.

BIG BOI: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Wait a minute. Is that you or Andre?

HELEN HONG: (Laughter).

BIG BOI: I'm talking about Jesus.

SAGAL: OK. I wanted to ask you about some of your hobbies. You are an animal lover.

BIG BOI: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: Did you - I heard that you once had a shark.

BIG BOI: Yes, absolutely.

HONG: What?

BIG BOI: I had a nurse shark. His name was Billy Ocean.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG BOI: Yeah, yeah. It was real fun times. And I had got - I got, like, a 500-gallon tank.

SAGAL: Yeah.

BIG BOI: And I had all the stingrays and groupers and things like that. And I've been breeding dogs now for my brother for over 25 years. I'm breeding French bulldogs.

SAGAL: All right. I have so many questions. All right. So you had a shark. Was it fun having a shark for a pet?

BIG BOI: Yes, yes. It was a lot of fun. Like, I, you know, would buy hand-sized goldfish and watch him hunt. And, you know...

SAGAL: Wait a minute. What did you feed him?

BIG BOI: Hand-sized goldfish.

SAGAL: Hand-sized goldfish...

BIG BOI: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...The big goldfish.

BIG BOI: Yeah.

SAGAL: Did you put...

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Did you put the goldfish on, like, a trapdoor above the shark tank, and when they displeased you...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...You pushed a lever, and they fell into the shark tank?

BIG BOI: Something like that.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG BOI: I just dropped them out of a bag, and it was just - all hell broke loose.

SAGAL: (Laughter) So - and I also found out that you - as you say, you're - you've been a breeder of French bulldogs. Do you show your dogs?

BIG BOI: Sometimes. My brother does. My brother runs the whole operation. I got, like, a 40-acre ranch out by Six Flags out here in Atlanta...

SAGAL: Yeah.

BIG BOI: ...Indoor-outdoors facility. I like to call it the Ritz Carlton for dogs.

SAGAL: Why French bulldogs, of all breeds?

BIG BOI: Because they look like teddy bears, and they're the cutest things.

PETER GROSZ: Yeah.

BIG BOI: Yeah.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

BIG BOI: Yeah, yeah. We do those. We do the pit bull terriers as well.

SAGAL: Now - and then finally, you got into owls, of all things. How did that happen?

BIG BOI: I always was fascinated with owls - I mean, just, you know, the mysteriousness of them. And there's this wildlife guy that's a good friend of mine. He was like, hey, I can get you an owl, you know? And I was like, really? So about a year and a half ago, I got two Eurasian eagle owls from upstate New York. And they're, like, the coolest animals ever. Like, they will perch for hours. You can sit them in the living room and just they'll sit there all day. You've just got to watch them around the puppies.

SAGAL: Oh, really?

HONG: Oh, they'll eat the puppies?

SAGAL: Do they go for the puppies?

TOM BODETT: Sure.

BIG BOI: They'll try to - they, like, try to chase them a little bit sometimes. But we kind of keep them separated.

SAGAL: Wow. Do you ever bring them into the studio with you when you're working?

BIG BOI: Yes. Yes. I bring them every couple of months. You know, if I'm working on something, I let them sit on the credenza for a little while, you know, while I'm writing or something like that.

HONG: Wow.

SAGAL: Here's Big Boi, giant of hip-hop, who composes his raps while his owl is on the credenza.

GROSZ: Yeah.

BIG BOI: Yeah. That's the true meaning of "Hootie Hoo."

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: That's what I was going to - I was about to ask if you had a - any owl sample that you were...

SAGAL: You are such an icon in Atlanta. Are there, like, young rappers out there going, I got to get an owl, man, 'cause Big Boi's got one?

BIG BOI: Yeah. I mean, some of them are saying that. They're saying, like, where'd you get it? And when they see them in person, they're kind of really completely blown away when they come to the studio, and I'm walking around the studio with an owl in my hands. Yeah.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

GROSZ: You're like a Renaissance man, like, from the actual Renaissance.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Yeah, it's pretty cool. I know. It's great.

BIG BOI: I love the energy.

HONG: I want to ask about owl sex, but I won't.

SAGAL: Yeah. Well...

BIG BOI: (Laughter) It's got to be a hoot.

SAGAL: I got to tell you, man...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...It'd turn your head.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG BOI: Yeah - 360 degrees.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I've got to ask you one last question, which is, how did you get your name, Big Boi?

BIG BOI: You've got to ask my wife.

SAGAL: Your wife gave you that name.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: Hey.

SAGAL: Oh.

GROSZ: Come on, Peter. That was laid out...

SAGAL: I am a sucker.

GROSZ: ...Right in front of you.

SAGAL: I know. I went for that like a nurse shark for a goldfish. I just couldn't resist.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG BOI: (Unintelligible).

SAGAL: Well, Big Boi, it is a joy to talk to you. But we have invited you here today to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: I Like The Way You Move...

BIG BOI: OK.

KURTIS: ...My Stuff.

SAGAL: We're pretty sure that your big hit "I Like The Way You Move" (ph) was not about moving companies, so we're going to ask you three questions about the people that move our stuff. If you get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of anyone they might like on their voicemail that is from our show. Bill, who is Big Boi playing for?

KURTIS: Robert Brown (ph) of Atlanta, Ga.

SAGAL: All right. You ready to do this?

BIG BOI: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: Here we go. Here's your first question. If you were moving apartments in New York in the 1960s, one option for you was a company called Low-Rate Movers. Other than their great prices, what made the company special? A, your furniture would have been moved by the artist Chuck Close, the composer Philip Glass and the actor Spalding Gray; B, for a low additional fee, you could just arrange your furniture in their truck and live there to save on rent; or C, they didn't move your furniture or your possessions; they moved your astral self.

BIG BOI: Whoa. I'm going to have to go with A.

SAGAL: You're right, Big Boi.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: The company was owned by a well-known artist to move his work, so he hired other artists.

BIG BOI: That's dope.

SAGAL: It is. Here's your next question. One moving company in LA with a lot of celebrity clients once got a call from a very big star asking them to do what? A, pick the person himself up from the couch and move him to his bed; B, pick up and move his entire house so he could have a better view of the ocean; or C, move one chair from the dining room to the living room at 3 a.m.

BIG BOI: C.

SAGAL: You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

BIG BOI: Yeah.

GROSZ: That's amazing.

BIG BOI: That's great.

SAGAL: True story. All right.

GROSZ: That's as good as it gets.

SAGAL: Last question, Big Boi. Here we go.

BIG BOI: OK.

SAGAL: The government of Quebec in Canada has decided to honor the brave men and women of the moving companies of that province by doing what? A, they built a statue known as The Unknown Mover to honor all those who have died of hernias while lifting pianos; B, they created a holiday known as Moving Day, when everyone is encouraged to move and the moving companies get to charge three times their regular rate; or C, any professional mover in Quebec gets the prized first press at the annual maple syrup harvest.

BIG BOI: C.

SAGAL: That would be awesome.

GROSZ: That would be great.

SAGAL: But the answer, in fact, was B, Moving Day.

BIG BOI: Oh.

SAGAL: It's a big thing in Quebec. Everybody's supposed to move on that day. The moving companies make bank.

BIG BOI: Triple the charge. That would be - that's not a good day to move.

SAGAL: No, it isn't.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But they're Canadians. They're obedient. They do it anyway.

BIG BOI: Damn.

SAGAL: Bill, how did Big Boi do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, he got 2 out of 3, and that's a big win for Big Boi.

SAGAL: Absolutely. Congratulations. If there were 5,000 people here, they'd be thrilled for you.

(APPLAUSE)

GROSZ: Woo-hoo (ph).

HONG: Woo-hoo.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

HONG: Hootie hoo (ph).

SAGAL: Woo-hoo.

BIG BOI: I like it.

SAGAL: Big Boi is a Grammy-winning rapper and producer.

Big Boi, thank you so much for spending some time with us. What a pleasure to talk to you.

BODETT: Yay.

BIG BOI: Thank y'all.

SAGAL: Thank you.

KURTIS: Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

BIG BOI: Enjoy the city.

SAGAL: Thank you. We will.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WAY YOU MOVE")

OUTKAST: (Singing) I like the way you move. I like the way you move. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.