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Outkast - Idlewild
|Few people ever experience success of the magnitude that Outkast has in just a shade over a decade of collaborating as one of hip hop’s foremost crews. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik – platinum. ATLiens – double platinum. Aquemini – double platinum. Stankonia – quadruple platinum. Big Boi and Dre Present… Outkast – platinum. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – diamond. For those lagging behind that’s around twenty million records sold over four LPs, one greatest hits release, and one double album.|
The two began as enemies in their high school years. Rivaling artists, they frequently engaged in freestyle battles for pride’s sake before teaming up with Organized Noize and joining LaFace Records. Nearly premature success hit the duo as their first single, “Player’s Ball,” skyrocketed to the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks chart. They began lyrical contrasts at an early date as well when Dre and Big Boi assumed dueling positions as separate street identities throughout Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Three albums later Stankonia brought Outkast fully into the limelight moving over four million units aided by explosive hit singles “Ms. Jackson” and “B.O.B. (Bombs over Baghdad).”
Although creative discrepancies shone apparent throughout as seen in the aforementioned MC freestyle battles and lyrics wars, Outkast split further with 2003’s release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. André 3000 and Big Boi collaborated rather infrequently as each churned out multiple tracks for what proved to be practically two solo efforts combined as a double album. The combination seemed to take place in order that they might use the popular name of Outkast solely to reach more persons with their music. Still five millions sets flew off the shelves and counted as ten million sales by the R.I.A.A. due to the double album status as the crew produced a disgustingly rare diamond album. Such phenomenal success disallowed a rumored breakup from materializing.
For Idlewild the two join forces yet again on a single disc output and resulting clashes hinder creativity. Big Boi sneers “too much inspiration” at the outset of “N2U” and in doing so summarizes a good deal of the album. Oftentimes the record seems so jam packed with both artists’ ideas that discontinuity reigns. The two struggle to harness said creativity and instead allow it to run free resulting in messy tracks and an even sloppier final result.
Both singers first lay it down for a mutual track during the sophomore song “Mighty ‘O.’” This ends up being just a warm up as the two never quite click rhythmically and the tune slowly deteriorates. Soon however Dre and Big Boi double team “Morris Brown,” Idlewild’s first single sporting a music video, to churn out likely the most popular song on the CD. Both men hit their stride running and never let up. They prove in sync with one another for the first time in recent memory and the result is a more than memorable effort.
Overall André gives off a more inspired and insecure vibe contrasted to Big Boi’s advanced comfort level with his music. Unfortunately Dre misses the mark with the majority of his admirable efforts and his rapping is less impressive than in previous releases. While still progressing, Big Boi seems infinitely more stagnant musically than does his counterpart. This, however, means in this case that he appears more secure in his rhymes and beats. Thus his tracks come out with more staying power and generally a better sound than do Dre’s.
As is the case with most music striding forward in leaps and bounds, Idlewild is certainly worth a few spins to formulate an opinion regarding the direction taken by Outkast. Without comparison to earlier releases, Outkast’s Idlewild would be a pleasant surprise and an easily listenable disc although still nothing outstanding. But clocking in at over seventy minutes stamina dies out and fatigue sets in as interest wanes around the halfway mark. Such has never been the case with their previous efforts. And no longer do the two operate as an entirely cohesive unit but rather as a somewhat functional machine in need of serious maintenance. Perhaps the ultimate problem with this record is the disappointment which inevitably sets in at the realization of the lost potential present. Here’s to hoping it still manages to sell enough copies for André 3000 and Big Boi to stick it out for another more stellar disc.
01:17 PM on 08/22/06
This would be a rather disappointing bookend to their partnership if it was the last album they did together. I loved Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and most of their earlier work, but this one isn't hitting me the same at all. It's definitely listenable, but I'm going to have a hard time wanting to go back to it. Maybe the movie will make it connect even more, so I'm hoping for good reviews there. Thanks for the review.
03:57 PM on 08/22/06
I enjoy the album a lot...but like other hip hop albums, the filler gets in the way of the continuity. I don't care if it's a soundtrack or not, its very distracting if not applicable to a story or concept.
04:16 PM on 08/22/06
That was very well written, nice job.
04:32 PM on 08/22/06
I really enjoy your reviews.
Are you like the designated rap guy here now?
06:04 PM on 08/22/06
Yea, I'd say I'm definately the most likely person to review rap or electronic CDs here. I'm not as in touch with many of the emo bands as the rest of the staff. For example, I'll be doing the new Roots, DJ Shadow, Lupe Fiasco, and Young Jeezy discs for sure but won't have a shot at a release like Brand New's upcoming effort. But it's obviously extremely flexible as is evidenced by the fact that Gabe will be covering the new Talib Kweli (which will be phenomenal of course).
06:07 PM on 08/22/06
this review was better before you paraphrased it from pitchfork.
08:39 PM on 08/22/06
It should at least be in the 80s
09:50 PM on 08/22/06
But it's obviously extremely flexible as is evidenced by the fact that Gabe will be covering the new Talib Kweli (which will be phenomenal of course).
10:59 PM on 08/22/06
i think it deserved better than what you gave it.
11:15 PM on 08/22/06
Have they even reviewed this? I don't see anything there anymore other than electronica stuff.
05:19 AM on 08/23/06
yikes, you didn't do this justice...there are some amazing songs on here
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