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OutKast thinks out of the Boxxx

Published (Volume 76, No. 8)

Call them psychedelic funkdafied rap moguls.  Or call them amazing artists that have done more than anyone else to progress hip-hop musically.  Either way, the duo Big Boi and Andre 3000, commonly known as OutKast, have created commercial and critical successes. 

The 1994 album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik turned the hip-hop world on its ear and their sophomore release, 199’‘s ATLiens was well received, turning out the hit single Elevators. Rolling Stone magazine called OutKast’s 1998 album Aquemini an “aquatic-funk attack masterpiece.” Next in the big book of OutKast came 2000’s Stankonia which banged out massive hits B.O.B., Mrs. Jackson and So Fresh, So Clean.  With their fifth album, OutKast is looking to recreate their past successes.

By all accounts, they are doing just that. Billboard sales figures place OutKast at the top of the chart for two weeks running, selling another 234,000 units of their two-CD set Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. 

The double-album is a marvel.  The first half of the double set, Speakerboxxx, features Big Boi on the album cover decked out in a throwback Cubs jersey. From the outset of the album booming bass lines herald the coming of the first song, a warp-speed lick called Ghetto Musick that blasts along at such a pace that the song flips into an old-school R&B hook for the chorus to slow it down before launching back into 140 BPM sonic techhno-beats. 

The rest of Speakerboxxx follows suite beautifully, as each subsequent track blazes along at a fireman’s pace. Notable highlights on the journey through some of the fattest beats this side of the Mason-Dixon include the current single The Way You Move, (one of two current OutKast singles on the radio) Bust and Flip Flop Rock featuring Killer Mike, and what is being lauded as the breakout hit of the mix, Tomb of the Boom, which features rapper Ludacris.

As fans of OutKast bounce to the sounds of the Boxxx, the yin to Big Boi’s yang is Andre 3000’s The Love Below. The second half of the set was originally intended as a concept album for a movie that Andre was writing. 

At times The Love Below feels like psychedelic Barry White on Viagra, on other songs the Southern comes out in the beats, and there’s no stopping it.  Each of the songs have a different feel, and the album’s current single Hey Ya is reminiscent of a folk-rock song rapped over booming beats. The tracks to watch are Happy Valentine’s Day, She Lives in My Lap, (which 3000 noted meant his lady was sitting on his lap relaxing, as well as serving the obvious entendra) and Take Off Your Cool, which features Grammy-winning songstress Norah Jones.

Big Boi and Andre 3000 have messed with the mixture once more, adding double the potency to the brew of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and created yet another masterpiece to add to their collection of hit albums, and shown their love for being different while still bringing the same love they began with, now matured, to the game.