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Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

by OutKast

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To call OutKast's follow-up to their 2000 masterpiece Stankonia the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of the new millennium may be hyperbole, but not by much. In its kaleidoscopic, deep-fried amalgam of Dirty South, dirty funk, techno, and psychedelia, Stankonia was fearlessly exploratory and giddy


To call OutKast's follow-up to their 2000 masterpiece Stankonia the most eagerly awaited hip-hop album of the new millennium may be hyperbole, but not by much. In its kaleidoscopic, deep-fried amalgam of Dirty South, dirty funk, techno, and psychedelia, Stankonia was fearlessly exploratory and giddy with possibilities. It was hard to imagine where the duo was going to go next, but one possibility that few entertained was that Big Boi and Andre 3000 would split apart, each recording an album on his own and then releasing the pair as the fifth OutKast album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, in the fall of 2003. Although both albums have their own distinct character, the effect is kind of like if the Beatles issued The White Album as one LP of Lennon tunes, the other of McCartney songs -- the individual records may be more coherent, but the illusion that the group can do anything is tarnished. By isolating themselves from each other, Big Boi and Andre 3000 diminish the idea of OutKast slightly, since the focus is on the individuals, not the group. Which, of course, is part of the point of releasing solo albums under the group name -- it's to prove that the two can exist under the umbrella of the OutKast aesthetic while standing as individuals. Thing is, while it would have been a wild, bracing listen to hear these 39 songs mixed up, alternating between Boi and Dre cuts, the two albums do prove that the music can be solo in execution but remain OutKast records through and through. Both records are visionary, imaginative listens, providing some of the best music of 2003, regardless of genre. If conventional wisdom, based on their public personas and previous music, held that Big Boi's record, Speakerboxxx, would be the more conventional of the two and Andre 3000's The Love Below the more experimental, that doesn't turn out to be quite true. From the moment Speakerboxxx kicks into gear with "GhettoMusick" and its relentless blend of old-school 808s and breakneck breakbeats, it's clear that Boi is ignoring boundaries, and the rest of his album follows suit. It's grounded firmly within hip-hop, but the beats bend against the grain and the arrangements are overflowing with ideas and thrilling, unpredictable juxtapositions, such as how "Bowtie" swings like big-band jazz filtered through George Clinton, how "The Way You Move" offsets its hard-driving verses with seductive choruses, or how "The Rooster" cheerfully rides a threatening minor-key mariachi groove, salted by slippery horns and loose-limbed wah-wah guitars. It's a hell of a ride, reclaiming the adventurous spirit of the golden age and pushing it into a new era. By contrast, The Love Below isn't so much visionary as it is unapologetically eccentric. And as the cocktail jazz pianos that sparkle through the first few songs indicate, it's not much of a hip-hop album. Instead, Andre 3000 has created the great lost Prince album -- the platter that the Purple One recorded somewhere between Around the World in a Day and Sign 'o' the Times. It's not just that the music and song titles cheekily recall Prince -- "She Lives in My Lap" is a close relation of the B-side "She's Always in My Hair" -- it's that Dre disregards any rules on a quest to create his own interior world, right down to a dialogue with God. The difference between Andre 3000 and Prince is in that dialogue, too: Prince was tortured; Andre is trying to get laid. That cheerfully randy spirit surges through The Love Below, even on the spooky-serious closer, "A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre," and it gives Andre the freedom to try a little of everything, from mock crooning on "Love Haters" to a breakbeat jazz interpretation of "My Favorite Things" to the strange one-man funk of "Roses" and the incandescent "Hey Ya!," where classic soul and electro-funk coexist happily. So, both records are very different, but the remarkable thing is, they both feel thoroughly like OutKast music. Big Boi and Andre 3000 took off in different directions from the same starting point, yet they wind up sounding unified because they share the same freewheeling aesthetic, where everything is alive and everything is possible within their music. That spirit fuels not just the best hip-hop, but the best pop music, and both Speakerboxxx and The Love Below are among the best hip-hop and best pop music released this decade. Each is a knockout individually, and paired together, their force is undeniable.

Product Details

Release Date:
La Face


Album Credits

Performance Credits

OutKast   Primary Artist
Zaza   Guitar
Kevin Brandon   Double Bass
Mark Cargill   Violin
Charles Veal   Violin,Concert Master
Joi   Vocals,Background Vocals
Louis Kabok   Violin
Kevin Kendricks   Guitar,Keyboards
Debra Killings   Bass,Background Vocals
Gina Kronstadt   Violin
Aaron Mills   Bass
Kevin O'Neal   Double Bass
Robin Ross   Viola
Jim Sitterly   Violin
Darryl Otis Smith   Guitar
Tibor Zelig   Violin
Benjamin F. Wright   Strings,Conductor
Michele Nardone   Viola
David Arenz   Strings
David Braitberg   Strings
Jay-Z   Vocals
Jazze Pha   Vocals
Tomi Martin   Guitar
John Krovoza   Cello
Lil Jon   Vocals
Cee Lo Green   Vocals
Yarda Kettner   Violin
André Benjamin   Acoustic Guitar,Keyboards,Tenor Saxophone,Vocals
Patrick Morgan   Viola
Myrna Crenshaw   Vocals,Background Vocals
Antwan Patton   Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals
Donnie Mathis   Guitar
David Whild   Guitar
Big Gipp   Vocals,Background Vocals
Kevin Smith   Electric Bass
Kelis   Vocals
Marvin "Chanz" Parkman   Organ,Keyboards
Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz   Vocals
Richard Keller   Strings
Slimm Calhoun   Vocals
Ludacris   Vocals
Sleepy Brown   Vocals,Background Vocals
Killer Mike   Vocals,Background Vocals
Rajinder Kala   Conga
Mark Casillas   Violin
Bonnie Hayes & the Wild Combo   Vocals
Moffett Morris   Upright Bass
Martin Smith   Cello
Mello   Vocals,Background Vocals
Tori Alamaze   Background Vocals
Mildryln "Big Gul" Andrews   Background Vocals
Eleanor Arnez   Strings
Marianne Lee Stitt   Background Vocals
Catherine Chan   Cello
Lisa Chien   Cello
Sanford Salzinger   Strings
Rosario Dawson   Vocals
Konkrete   Vocals
Hornz Unlimited   Trumpet,Horn
Eric Johnson   Strings
Richard Adkins   Violin
Marcy Vaj   Viola

Technical Credits

Willie Dennis   Composer
Bunny Sigler   Composer
R. Kelly   Composer
Phalon Alexander   Composer
Reginald Dozier   Engineer
John Frye   Engineer
Kenny Gamble   Composer
Cameron K-Oz Gipp   Composer
Isaac Hayes   Composer
Ricky Keller   String Arrangements
Kevin Kendricks   Composer
OutKast   Executive Producer
L.A. Reid   Executive Producer
Roger   Composer
Benjamin F. Wright   String Arrangements
Doug King   Composer
Brad Jordan   Composer
Carlton "Carl Mo" Mahone   Composer
Jeffrey Schulz   Art Direction
Matt Still   Engineer
Eric Vidal   Composer
DJ   Producer
André Benjamin   Composer,Programming,Producer
Thomas Burton   Composer
Shawn Carter   Composer
Myrna Crenshaw   Composer
Antwan Patton   Composer,Programming,Producer,drum programming
Donnie Mathis   Composer
Carl Mo   Producer
Cutmaster Swift   Producer,Cut
Darrel Thorpe   Engineer
Robert Hannon   Engineer
Pete Novak   Engineer
James Hollins   Composer
Terrence Cash   Engineer
Brian Paturalski   Engineer
Chris Carmouche   Engineer
Patrick Brown   Composer
Jeminesse "Slimm Jim" Smith   Programming
Moka Nagatani   Engineer
Dojo5   Producer
Padraic Kernin   Engineer
John Frisbee   Director
Hornz Unlimited   Horn Arrangements
Brian Loving   Composer
Willie Knighton   Composer
Nathaniel Elder   Composer
Cory Andrews   Composer
Matt Boykin   Composer
Dino Hawkins   Composer
James Patton   Composer
David Sheats   Composer
Christopher Bridges   Composer
Michael Render   Composer

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