The Album List #41: Outkast “Stankonia”


International and underground.

I have tried to figure out how to exactly write this piece.

Then I decided to simplify to the basics.

I love Outkast.

I love André 3000’s spaced out, hippy dippy self. I love Big Boi’s muscle and swagger. I love their inventiveness, their boldness, their samples, their lyrics, their sense of history.

I love them.

I love how “Bombs Over Baghdad” feels so real and current ten years after the fact, but how I can lament the clichés that populate the video despite loving that they see the grass is always purple on the other side.

I have a soft spot for retro funk beats, like the one that anchors “So Fresh, So Clean”. Deep seventies slinky sexy matched with a Sleepy Brown vocal hook. It is such a fantastic song, and it just seems to be about clothes.

I love “Ms. Jackson”, where frustration and resentment gets tempered with reality of the situation.

I love “Gasoline Dreams”, an evisceration of the American dream over metal guitars.

I love the sparseness and quick flow that “Humble Mumble” brings, along with some Erykah Badu vocals.

I love the Cee-Lo cameo on “Slum Beautiful”, a song rich in 70s funk.

This is an album that seeps authenticity, intelligence, and musicality. If all hip hop was and honest and complex as what Outkast could do, then maybe it would be less maligned. This is not to dismiss the perfection that Jay-Z, Kanye, or Eminem have put out there over the years. But there is something special about Outkast. There is a fearlessness, and an element of the fantastic.  They blow my mind every time.

 

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