on 5 October 2003
One of the few times you can enjoy to get whats expected. We associate Outkast with creativity, music and deviation from the norm. An with their new double CD entitled Speakerboxx/The Love Below we get all that and more.
The album is split in two with each emcee Andre 3000 and Big Boi each having their own CD. There are not many tracks that feature both emcees, if at this point emcees are what you can call these musical dynamos. Andre 3000 does alot of singing and harmonizing on the album.
Its extremely apparent at this point that Outkast is bigger than hip-hop. Tracks such as "Hey YA!" and "Roses" feature full bands where the singing is as much of the music as is the rapping. They take up back to the old school with tracks like "Ghetto Music" and other that contain hints of old school Marvin Gaye type flavor.
Life and spirituality is a major reccuring theme throughout both discs. Andre speaks on his relationship with Erykah Badu on " A day in the life of Andre Benjamin." Tracks like "Reset" featuring Khujo and Big Boi speak on starting over and getting through lifes challenges. "Unhappy" speaks on maintaing through lifes hurdles. Other tracks like "Church" solidify the theme of the importance of spirituality. Other tracks like "War" kick some knowledge about whats going on with America and the world.
But there are club bangers. This is not elevator music, tracks like "Tomb of the Boom" and "Last Call" featuring Lil Jon is defiantely crunk music for the trunk speakerbox.
Get this album!
on 16 November 2003
There is not a great to say about this that hasn't been said already except it's every bit as good the other reviews make out.
Big Boi's "Speakerboxx" alone would have made for very satisfactory and actually damn satisfying follow-up to the excellent "Stankonia". Indeed, it is more in a similar vein to the aforementioned album; fantastic envelope-pushing hip-hop with a mix of funky groovers ("Bowtie", "The Way You Move"), thundering stompers ("Ghettomusick") and thought-provokers ("War").
Andre 3000's "The Love Below" is absolutely mind-blowing. Even having read all the reviews I was not prepared for anything this experimental, seemingly unrelated to anything else going on in music right now and damn better for it. It's the kind of music that makes you feel that most of your remaining music collection is a little less relevant than it was before.
But, as I say, so much has been said about it I only want to make the following comments:
1.As soon as it started I had a huge smile on my face that didn't leave until long after the album had finished.
2."Love Hater" and "Hey Ya" almost had me dancing down Oxford Street yesterday afternoon.
3.At the same time as I bought this I also got the Beatles rather splendid "Rubber Soul". Despite this, right now, I only want to listen to Outkast.
4.A couple of weeks ago I bought The Beatles' "White Album", Flaming Lips "Soft Bulletin" and Love's "Forever Changes"; all classics in their own right. Frankly, great as they are, I prefer "The Love Below".
In case you haven't worked it out yet, I kinda recommend this...
on 2 January 2004
"Crocodile on my feet; Fox fur on my back; Bowtie around my neck, that's why they call me the gangsta mack in the cadillac"
Big Boi's chorus on Bowtie exemplifies Speakerboxxx. It's that real cool, laid back, southern funk that Outkast do like no one else. The Love Below is another thing entirely. Taking notes from jazz, electro, rock... you name it. Andre 3000 has fused it all together to come up with something really off the wall. While Speakerboxxx is definitely the more accessible to the average hip hop fan, The Love Below is the one half which has been gaining most of the plaudits. It's definitely the more difficult listen, but is all the more rewarding for it. You'll have heard the lead single, Hey Ya, all over the airwaves by now, and this is as mainstream as Andre allows things get.
Speakerboxxx and The Love Below could stand on their own as superb solo albums, but as a whole, they are spectacular. Hip Hop has always been about innovation, but there are few big name rappers about right now that are willing to do that for fear of losing their listeners.
Outkast, however, have come up with the most innovative mainstream album in years. The success Outkast are having just shows how much listeners are appreciating a group willing to spend the time to make something truly exceptional.
For my money, this is the album of the year in any genre. If you don't have it, get it.
on 30 September 2003
As the album is split into two discs, one for Big Boi & one for Andre 3000, I'll review them "separately".
Firstly, Big Boi's Speakerboxxx disc, which, weighing in with 19 tracks at a total length of just under an hour, is the shorter of the two. It is in a fairly conventional OutKast hip hop style (insofar as OutKast can be said to be conventional!).
Although the number of guests seems to threaten the consistency and continuity of Big Boi's own raps, this fails to occur, as the short track lengths, dope beats, high quality guest spots, and Big Boi's own skilled performance keep the album moving.
None of the tracks are permitted to outstay their welcome, with the result that you are left wanting more of everything (I often end up playing the album through twice in a row). This is a rarity in hip hop today, which often seems to believe that filling the CD to the brim is more important than what you fill it with.
Standout tracks include the thought-provoking "War" or "Knowing", the melancholy "Unhappy", and the bangers "GhettoMusick" and "The Rooster", although all are excellent.
Andre 3000's The Love Below disc is almost bizarre. The man who made Eminem's Top 5 MC list seems to have given up rapping! Yes, Andre has completely flipped and made an album about love and all its facets, in which he spends most of the time singing.
Fear not however, for somehow this doomed enterprise isn't doomed: inexplicably, it works! Once I got over the initial shock of Andre's change of tack, it seemed to grow on me until I now like it perhaps more than Speakerboxxx. It may take three listens to come round to this viewpoint, though, so give it a chance and don't dismiss it if you don't like it at first.
There's only one standout track on this one, the sting in the tail that is "A Life In The Day Of Benjamin Andre (Incomplete)".
The only track on which Andre truly raps, it should be listened to: I won't give away its secrets as I only half understand it myself.
The rest of the album is good even to the cod-olde-English skit "Good Day, Good Sir", which would probably be intensely irritating if anyone but Andre had done it. There's no filler in its nearly 80 minute length, which is some achievement, and so this disc can be listened to from beginning to end, just like Speakerboxxx.
The only problems with this album are that there are only two tracks on which both Andre & Big Boi feature, and that I can't figure out which disc is the "first" half (but I suspect that that is intentional).
All in all, another classic, to join Aquemini & Stankonia in demonstrating why OutKast are probably the best hip hop group in existence today.
on 6 April 2005
Yes its a better then good double album blending idfferent genres with the OutKast boi's, but they have done it all before. ATLiens and Aquemini are amazing records, and sound so mcuh better then Stankonia, and this. Due to one main factor the amount of interludes on the last to albums are two many and engulf the album. Although the standout tracks are 5***** masterpeices. As for everyone saying Andre's album is better then Big boi's; im not to sure, Andre has 4 songs that will make you move n funk about, however the rest of the songs, are good but nothing to special then followed up by the fillers. even though Big Boi's does not contain as finer tracks as Hey Ya! , Roses, Dracula's Wedding or Happy Valentine's Day he moves more into mainstream rapping. Which for him is not a bad move, Ghettomusick blasts out onto the album as the opening track, however from that 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are all good songs then his fillers come in to play with outbreaks from Jay-Z and Little Jon.
For OutKast fans this still is a good enoguh album for the collections, and probably more people now will enjoy Outkast due to this album.
on 3 November 2003
Firstly, the great value for money of the album has to be mentioned; 38 tracks for 15 quid is a good deal by any standards.Speakerboxxx is by far the more hip hop styled of the two albums. Many collaborations make the flow of rapping enjoyable and certain tracks like ghettomusick and boom of the tomb are really excellent songs. But it's a long way off the perfection of the love below because of the several boring interludes(although the one of big boi's kid rapping is very funny) and the order of the songs seems to be very random.
The love below really makes this newest outkast outing shine through the other hip hop album recently released(even joe budden's). the album starts with a beautiful soft song and a small speech to god which is strangely amusing. The love below explodes into life with valentine's day, a strong beat and catchy vocals.Spread is again fantastic and amusing. A very funny interlude is within "where are my panties?" continuing the story of finding love that is the theme for the album when another person in another building shouts "ICE COLD", very clever addition to an otherwise run-of-the-mill interlude. Many other songs are truly amazing on this album, Hey ya is very accesible and is part of four songs in a row which make the album the best of the year so far which includes:"hey ya", "roses", "love not war" and "pink and blue".
on 22 November 2004
Speakerboxxx and The Love Below are, for all intents and purposes, two separate albums brought to you lovingly by Big Boi and Andre 3000 respectively.
Outkast fans will be pleased with this bumper package which contains some of the most sparkling and well produced music you will ever hear. Noticeably, Speakerboxxx is the inferior of the two, 'Love Below being a shiny concept album with favourites 'Hey Ya' and 'Roses' thrown in to the mix. Give this album a few listens and you will see that the whole package is an innovative and rewarding experience. Certainly up there with Outkast's best work. Just don't be so sad as to tailor what you listen to depending on whatever 'R+B essential' compilations are out there. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is fantastic.
on 9 May 2004
I have just listened to both albums and i'm surprised at how different they are.
'SPEAKERBOXXX' is 'Big Boi's' album and it mixes Hip Hop, Rock and Jazz. The best songs on 'SPEAKERBOXXX' are 'Ghettomusick', 'The Way You Move', 'Church', 'Flip Flop Rock' and 'Last Call'.
Songs like 'Ghettomusick' and 'The Way You Move' mix hip-hop and jazz beats together superbly.
Most songs on 'SPEKAERBOXXX' have similar style but you'll enjoy every single one.
No one expected 'THE LOVE BELOW' to turn out the way it did and even though 'ANDRE 3000' is a genius when it comes to rapping, he's opted to use a slower type of music.
Not that ANDRE'S new style disappoints, it actually makes it better, BIG BOI has a different style and so by the two artists not copying eachother it gives a refreshing new style of music.
Songs like 'Love Hater', 'Spread', 'Hey Ya!', 'Roses' and 'Behold A Lady' show the real vocal talent of ANDRE and hopefully will be a starting point for a brand new OUTKAST.
BRILLIANT ALBUM, MUST-BUY, 5 STARS
on 20 May 2004
Firstly, I really hope people actually take the time to read this review, because almost all the other's I have read just ramble on about how people used to love OutKast and how they've turned into an awful pop-rap group. However, I would like to defend the case of the duo.
This album is one of the most anticipated of the year, mainly because it had been rumoured that Andre 3000 and Big Boi were barely even on speaking terms... It therefore did not come as a surprise when the two disc album appeared. The first, Speakerboxxx, is Big Boi's offering. This alone would have made a pretty fantastic album alone. Although not anything very "new" (i.e. experimental) it shows that the guy has talent, and he can keep on making good rap songs. That is not to say that the album is nothing special. Tracks like "GhettoMusick" add a new pumping beat style to OutKast's music, employing Andre's vocal skills with Big Boi's rapping finesse.
Andre 3000's "The Love Below" is absolutely mind-blowing. It is far more experimental than Big Boi's, although not necessarily better. It demonstrates the diversity present in the group currently. Perhaps this is the last album OutKast will make. Who can tell? Tracks like "Happy Valentine's Day" maintain the incredibly catchy but supremely cool style that the group deployed in the most famous OutKast track, "Miss Jackson".
I urge you to buy this album. Actually, no, I don't. Hardcore fans of OutKast may well find the album a bit too experimental for them. Progressive rap is the order of the day here on both discs, so prepare to be shocked by the new styles. I give the album a 5/5 rating purely from an inspirational point of view. Go buy!
Due to the vast length, I'll review the two albums that comprise this set in two parts- the first will focus on the more interesting album, Andre3000's The Love Below. Big Boi's album is far from terrible, but Andre3000's is the mindblowing choice. Extending on tracks like Ms Jackson & Rosa Parks, Andre opts to voyage into the realms of funk & soul, with the electronic/sonic elements coming to the fore on tracks like Mamacita, Red Velvet & Stankonia Love. The album sounds very now, though easily overcomes anything from The Neptunes/Timbaland, & its roots can be found in 80s Prince (Dirty Mind to The Black Album), Funkadelic (America Eats Its Young, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, Maggot Brain), Sly & The Family Stone (Fresh, There's a Riot Goin'On) etc.
Andre opts to sing the majority of the tracks, showcasing his considerable talents beyond the restrictions of the genre Outkast are associated with. There is some great humour, God is hilarious (reminds me of Dogma!), and who can resist a track like Spread? Every track appears to be a classic- Love Haters, Happy Valentines Day, the hilarious Roses, Prototype, Love in War...Andre has made many classic points and transcendetal moments before the guests appear- Kelis is wonderful on Dracula's Wedding - which then drifts into a fusion of jazz & drum'n'bass- a take on Coltrane's My Favourite Things that leads to Take Off Your Cool, which features a woman of the moment, Norah Jones. As with many of the tracks here, a wonderful acoustic guitar is used and Norah (whose charms have previously eluded me) sounds divine when singing next to Andre...Vibrate contnues the electronic feel of Stankonia with a blend of jazz and chilled gospel- this album is so sonically 21st Century, yet the various genres that Andre blends are rooted in the past. This release does recall Prince, though this might just be down to brilliant songwriting, production, arrangements and the notion of being an eclectic genius. Final track, A Life in the Day... returns us to a sound more common to Outkast- its only here you realise how infrequently Andre has rapped! A brilliant end to a brilliant album...
The Love Below NEEDS to be owned, on its own I'd say its probably the best album of the year (well, it's fighting David Sylvian's Blemish & Mars Volta's debut at the moment)- in this double-set it's great value. If ANYONE moans about the state of contemporary music, a fair enough gripe when considering hyped tosh like Kings of Leon, The Darkness & White Stripes, just point them to The Love Below. What can I say?- mindblowing!