THE BEGINNING

Reef Younis has been finding out what rich pop stars do with all that cash. Outkast’s Big Boi breeds dogs these days, which is one way to spend it, I guess…

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As one half of perennial Grammy-gatherers, Outkast, Antwon Andre Patton (to his mum, Big Boi to me and you) made a chart-bothering habit of filtering hip-hop’s dirty south into mainstream pop gold. Following the early acclaim for debut ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’, and follow-ups, ‘ATLiens’ and ‘Aquemini’, Outkast’s place at the forefront of the Southern hip-hop movement was confirmed, but it was Outkast’s fourth album, ‘Stankonia’ that carved up the US and UK charts in a blaze of funk, soul, and experimental hip-hop that firmly set the duo on their way to six Grammies and over 25 million records sold.

But before, during, and even after all of that success, Big Boi’s heart was elsewhere.

“I want to quit everything and live on a farm with my dogs and maybe a few horses,” he admitted back in 2002, “but the music keeps pulling me back to stitch together that Funk Frankenstein we call Outkast.”

That same year, he’d picked up 55 acres in southwest Atlanta and got together with some dog trainers to take his sideline in pitbull breeding up a level. A family interest passed down by his grandfather, Big Boi had been casually breeding from an early age but now with the land and expertise, the (world famous?) Pitfall Kennels was born.

With Outkast on hiatus from 2007, Big Boi was free to focus on his solo work while Mista Vegas, Uncle Rukkus, Shallow Hal, Dough Boy, Hannibal, Captain Morgan, and Doo Daddy took care of the bitches. Soon enough, Rick Ross was swinging by to play with the pitbulls, and Pitfall Kennels were supplying dogs to the likes of Serena Williams, 50 Cent, Usher, Roy Jones Jr., and Maurice White (of Earth, Wind and Fire fame).

That’s not to say the money is Big Boi’s only motivation; a quick visit to Pitfall Kennels site sees talk of ‘West Coast Gotti’ and the ‘Pitall’ bloodlines and “very short, girthy big-bone monsters”, seemingly the proud Pitfall guarantee.

“We’ve finally got to the point where there’s a Pitfall bloodline,” he told Spin back in 2004. “Say a dog doesn’t have a big head and it has a puppy that has a huge head, you would take that puppy back to a brother or sister of the parent, and that way you can get the same line but the trait will be better. It takes years.”

From the commitment that goes into a breeding a $2,000 pitbull pup to including his dogs in Outkast videos – his white pitbull, Polar Bear featured in the ‘The Whole World’ – Big Boi doesn’t need to ask anyone “where my dogs at?” because they’re probably in one of his 48 kennels in Fayetteville. Or at Usher’s.

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