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Outkast - Speakerboxx / The Love Below

2006-11-27 15:02
The Big Boi hosted Speakerboxxx is a whirlwind staccato beat box frenzy that embraces energetic retro disco, funk and jazzy sample-fuelled soul flourishes ("Ghettomusick") where jams continually change gears into electro filtered dance floor grooves, cartoon rap interludes, turntable twists and bass heavy beat mixes. It's a delirious dissection of contemporary hip-hop moods that insists on avoiding mere frivolous booty shakes, moving from summery 70s brass funk struts ("Bowtie", "The Way you Move") to tongue in cheek biographical bleats ("The Rooster") and early DMC style rap rock runs ("Bust"). While down-tempo soul soaked spiritual questions ("Church", "Reset"), sardonic gangsta posture deconstructions ("Tomb of the Boom", "Last Call") and searing socio-political consciousness spawning rhapsodies ("War") swing to a celebration of the "craft of raw rhyme" ("The Rap Rock").

The perfect counterfoil to Big Boi's broadcast news, Andre 3000's show The Love Below shifts the focus into more personal territory, sculpting a bewitching smooth soul celebration of love. Nostalgic orchestral jazz croons ("Love Hater") are spiced up with searing Funkadelic guitar solos that become full blown Parliament style rock jams ("Happy Valentine's Day", "Roses" and "Dracula's Wedding") that eventually erupt into the delirious Motown pastiche of "Hey Ya!" Later, skittering drum 'n bass flavoured electro-booty shakes ("Spread", "She Lives in My Lap") morph and reappear, recasting "My Favourite Things" into an elegiac lover's rap spliced by his 'n hers spoken word sketches that praise both "God" and underwear ("Where are My Panties")!

Exchanging the lewd lowest common denominator bump 'n grind bedroom jams for straightforward sensitive love ballads ("Pink & Blue", "She's Alive"), Andre seduces with his many flavoured message of love. As the yawning old school soul ("Prototype") and country-folk flavoured "Take off Your Cool" (featuring Norah Jones) prove, the revolution may have been subsumed by its own te-LIE-vised commercialisation, but Outkast are bringing back the real.

Miles Keylock

Given the morass of Billboard chart driven rap banality that's dominated the airwaves for the past few years you'd be forgiven for thinking that hip-hop had completely sold its soul to the pursuit of the almighty $ bill. Enter Outkast with the first truly revolutionary rap attack of the nu-millennium, the double disc state of the hip-hop nation address, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.


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