A few years after the multi-platinum smash album, Stankonia, put the duo called OutKast at the top of the hip hop heap, they released this double album, appropriately titled Speakerboxxx / The Love Below. Several rumors have abounded due to the split nature of these CDs, as other groups don't produce quadruple albums. Many thought OutKast were parting ways somehow. Others wondered how they got the idea to do something like this. One rumor floating around for a long time was that Andre had made a CD at his home studio, but didn't want to release it himself because he knew it wouldn't sell due to it's experimental nature. One thing remains the same, OutKast still blends funk, rock, hip hop and other styles together, as well as the differences of the two members of OutKast, Antwan Patton, aka Big Boi, and Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000. Don't confuse this album with a regular double disc, these are two very different albums.
I prefer this disc to The Love Below. Speakerboxxx is what the next OutKast album might have sounded like if the duo had released just one disc. It's nothing but pure Hip Hop. Elements of funk, appear, as does some rock and some gospel. Remember, this is OutKast, they're not your straight ahead rappers for the commercial masses. I recommend not skipping the intro track (which consists of a woman saying "Speakerboxxx" followed by some nice bass and crickets). It sets up a soft, relaxed mood which gets thoroughly destroyed by the rambuncious Ghetto Musick. It's fast, similar to Bombs Over Baghdad, only with more rampage and bad 90's R&B. Ghetto Musick is also one of the two songs that have both Andre 3000 and Big Boi on vocals.
The rest of the album is pure rap-goodness. Tracks like The Way You Move, Tomb of Boom and Flip Flop Rock standout as excellent tracks that could all be radio singles. The track that caught my ear, however, was the one called War. No, Big Boi doesn't sample that "war, HUH, what is it good for?" shenanigan, instead he raps about 9-11 and his views on the aftermath. Instead of tossing in quick lines about it, like 50 Cent and Eminem have done, Big Boi focuses more on the social issues than trying to prove that he's tough.
When will we all, awake up out this dream
Come here and smell the Folgers, the soldiers
The human beings, Man actin as if he was the supreme bein
Clockin the souls of men out like he was God and W.A.R.
W-A-Rrah, there'll be no tomorrow but sorrow
and horror will follow the hollow hearts battle for dollars
Politicians, modern day magicians, Physicians of death
more health care for poor health, Who makin us ill?
they makin us kill, That's makin me spill my guts (chill Big, lay in the cut)
For what? I refuse to sit in the backseat and get handled
Like I do nuttin all day but sit around watch the Cartoon Channel
I rap about the Presidential election and the scandal that followed
and we all watched the nation as it swallowed
and chalked it up; basically America you got fucked - the media shucked and jived now we stuck - damn!
You won't hear lyrics like that on any other hip hop album, that's fo sheezy. The way Big Boi spits the fifth and sixth lines in the verse (W-A-Rrah...dollars) it almost sounds like his mouth is outrunning the sound of his voice. The words almost step over each other, as if Big Boi couldn't speak fast enough to get his point across. The repetitive -orrow sound helps to create this alliterative stumbling effect.
The track titled Bamboo stands out as well, although not for its spectacular artistic flavor. It has the same beat as the track that follows, but instead of Big Boi dropping knowledge he spends his time trying to coax his four year old son, Bamboo, to rap. Hearing Bamboo trying to rap The Whole Wide World is pretty amusing and really cute, as the very young lad is no expert in rap, let alone talking and composing sentences. And, of course, the boys in the studio get Bamboo to motherfucker, if memory serves me rightswear on the mic.
The Love Below
The first three words that popped into my head upon hearing Andre 3000's offering were "What the Djibuti?" To call this album hip hop is a stretch. To put this disc into any genre is an exhaustive waste of enormous amounts of time. Just compare the guest lists on the two albums. Big Boi has rap stars such as Ludacris, Jay-Z and OutKast buddies Killer Mike and the Goodie Mob. Andre has Kelis, an up-and-coming singer who's trying to make waves after appearing here and there, Farnsworth Bently, P. Diddy's former man-servant, and piano icon Norah Jones. Yeap, Norah Jones. Now there's someone who just oozes hip hop.
Guest artists aside, the one thing that will smack you upside the head about The Love Below is the amount of songs about, well, love. Not exactly love though, more about relationships between people in love, or wanting to be in love, or who have happen to just made love. The skit, Where Are My Panties?, highlights this last idea. Andre's newfound female acquaintance for the evening wakes up, wondering what Andre thought. Andre wakes up later and wonders himself what his partner is thinking, to hilarious musings. The tracks that stand out to me on The Love Below are the deceptivly poppy, Hey Ya!, Prototype, Dracula's Wedding as well as the skit, Good Day, Good Sir.
Andre is really trying to push out into new grounds with this CD. He's doing more than just saying, "I'm making an album out of character, like when William Shatner made his," because it's not out of his character. Andre has always been considered one of the better rappers in the mainstream scene because he does more than just rap. His lyrics have always consisted of more than "shake ya ass" and "I'm gangsta, so let's get high and shoot stuff." Listen to Stankonia, Aquemini or any of their albums to see what I mean. He's doing more than being a rapper putting out a non-rap album. The Love Below still manages to contain that certain vibe throughout its play, even if it doesn't fit nicely into a boxxx.
Davidian's Rating: Damn out of Damn! Even if you end up disliking Andre's disc, Big Boi's is worth it for any hip hop connoisseur. The singles from this double album are Hey Ya!, The Way You Move, and a remix of the song Roses, which features a verse by Big Boi that is not on the original pressing of the CD.
The indented verse appears on track 8 Of Speakerboxxx. It was written by A. Benjamin, A. Patton and D.Sheats, so yay them for penning a good tune.