Home Read Classic Album Review: OutKast | Speakerboxxx / The Love Below

Classic Album Review: OutKast | Speakerboxxx / The Love Below

The Atlanta rap rebels double down with a duo of back-to-back solo releases.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Some see the glass as half full. Others as half empty. Either way, it seems many OutKast fans view their fifth release Speakerboxxx / The Love Below as half an OutKast album. Or, to be more precise, two incomplete halves, since this double-disc set essentially consists of back-to-back solo albums from the duo of Antwan (Big Boi) Patton and Andre (Andre 3000) Benjamin.

Do the naysayers have a point? Well, maybe if they’re not paying attention. The truth is that at first blush, these two discs might seem overly self-indulgent, lacking the instantly addictive hooks of Stankonia tracks like B.O.B., Ms. Jackson or So Fresh, So Clean. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find gems like Hey Ya!, The Way You Move, Roses and Ghetto Musick, which are every bit as catchy as anything they’ve done. And besides, anybody who only digs OutKast for their hits is missing out on all the fun of their freakadelic funk — an element that neither disc here is lacking.

On his Speakerboxxx, Big Boi gets down with an inventive 56-minute set of kinetic, free-flowing hip-hop and soul clearly inspired by George Clinton, from its Uncle Jam-inspired cover pic to its layered harmonies and synth-tweaked vocals. But even his wildest moments seem tame next to the mind-bending trip that is Andre 3000’s The Love Below, a 78-minute musical mish-mash of Princely lechery, Sly Stone grooves, bizarre skits, Zappaesque eccentricity and twisted romance. In other words, each disc gives you a full, undiluted blast of its creator, doing what he does best. Any way you slice it, that doesn’t sound half-bad to me.

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