Outkast - Speakerboxxx: Love Below | RECORD STORE DAY

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Outkast - Speakerboxxx: Love Below
Speakerboxxx: Love Below
Artist: Outkast
Format: CD


Label: LFC
Catalog: 50133
Rel. Date: 09/23/2003
UPC: 828765013321

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This legendary duo has return with their all-new studio album follow-up to the hot selling STANKONIA. Their first single is "Ghetto Musick".


When constructing a classic album, you can take one of two main approaches. You can pile up hit after hit, pummeling the listener with consistent quality. Or you can program for overall effect, using weaker tracks to set the high points in relief. After two worthy but not fully realized albums, Dirty South avatars OutKast employed the latter method on 1998's Aquemini. By the time of Stankonia, just two years later, Andre "3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton had all but mastered the use of purposeful filler. Stankonia contains any number of tracks that don't stand on their own, that you'd never put on a mix, but they give the album its rhythm-a flow as uneven and eccentric as the duo's rhyming style. Now that each MC has recorded his own disc (though they're packaged together as an OutKast release) you can bet there'll be valleys as well as peaks-and that they'll add to the overall pleasure of the experience.

Though Big Boi's the thuggier half of the team, his Speakerboxxx sounds pretty damn smoove up against the manic bark of Lil Jon or Ying Yang Twins that currently defines southern hip-hop. Which isn't to say his groove isn't greasy, or that Ludacris and Jay-Z don't sound right at home. The party starts on a pessimistic note, with the chorus "Might as well have fun/ Cause your happiness is done/ When your goose is cooked," and though it never succumbs to despair, it never shakes this dark mood-the desperation of "1999" without the reassurance that the struggle will all be over soon.

In contrast to Big Boi's ghetto realpolitik, Andre 3000 has made the comedy record of the year. His skits (he ends a prayer to God, who turns out to be a woman, "Amen-I'm sorry, I'm sorry, ah lady") hold up to repeated listens as well as the triumphant single "Hey Ya!," jumpy acoustic indie-pop that puts whatever's topping the CMJ charts to shame. He imitates Cupid, assays helium-voiced Prince imitations, and runs breakbeats under "My Favorite Things" And on "Love Hater," which sounds like Earth, Wind & Fire at their cocktail-jazziest, his lyrics ("Everybody needs someone to rub their shoulders/ Scratch their dandruff/ And everybody needs to quit acting hard and s***/ Before you get your ass whooped") show up the sanctimonious grandstanding of the Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is the Love?"

Over the years, OutKast has sometimes seemed like an experiment, to see if two distinct personalities could exist side by side. Well, there's no way Andre's campy "Dracula's Wedding" ("I'm terrified of you") could have brushed up against Big Boi's dive into the murk of contemporary U.S. culture, "War." But it's not so much that the MCs have grown apart, it's just that they've grown so much. Both Big Boi's contradictory nature and Andre's philosophy of the erotic are too expansive to be confined to anything less than the full space of a compact disc.