Outkast- The Love Below/Speakerboxxx

October 17th, 2003

Think Stevie Wonder meets Wyclef Jean meets George Clinton and if that seems your type of music then you will adore the new Outkast album ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’. Two of the most successful contemporary hip-hop artists have done it again, combining radio friendly and eccentric experimentation to deliver the album of the year, across any genre.

Most people will be most familiar to the radio stations favourite ‘Ms Jackson’ and the just as successful follow up single ‘So Fresh So Clean’ from the summer of 2001. Since that elevation into chart success, there’s been a greatest hits album to allow new fans the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the groups history, and a compilation album under the name ‘Dungeon Family’ which sees the two musicians from Atlanta, joined by friends to collaborate on a compilation of new tracks. The follow up to the duo’s critically acclaimed ‘Stankonia’ sees the two handle a disc of the double album each, cementing their footprints on the path to hip-hop genius.

Big Boi, known off stage as an Antwan Patton, contributes ‘Speakerboxxx’, laced with guest appearances by Jay Z, Cee Lo and Patti Labelle. The disc is full of diverse instrumentation ranging from a track resembling a church sing-a-long and a heavy trumpet chorus on an early track, which is sure to have his peers going back to the drawing board where they will be spending a long time.

The second disc, ‘The Love Below’ by Andre 3000 is even more left field. Tracks include conversations with God who he discovers to be female, an instrumental techno take of the musical classic ‘favourite things’, a very funkadelic/parliament inspired love song and much more. Nothing like this has been done for a long time, if ever. This concept album sits amongst hip-hop records as Bob Dylan’s back catalogue sits amongst the history of American folk music and Marvin Gaye’s amongst soul.
Whilst the likes of Damon Dash invest their time and money into saving ex spice girls careers, whilst the likes of 50 cent and Ja Rule re-gurgitate the gangster rap of some fifteen years ago, Outkast sprint forward, never once looking back. Each of their five albums have quickly sold to platinum status, whilst always being unique and very different in comparison with previous efforts. It is no different here. Two beautiful albums packaged and priced as one results in quite possibly, the most satisfying of buys in the record store of the last decade.