Prior to 2010, one could have made the argument that OutKast was stronger as a pair. This argument wholly applies to the group’s double-album releases Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. As I wrote just yesterday, I was hoping that today’s side, Speakerboxxx, would redeem its counterpart.
Does it ever.
So much so that the argument I was going to make is that the band is better as a duo.
This argument is wrecked by Antwan Patton’s Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, his first solo work as Big Boi. That album, best known for “Daddy Fat Sax” and “Shutterbugg,” helped form the thought that, maybe it was Big Boi that we should have been paying more attention to the whole time. When Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors was released last year, that thought was cemented. If you haven’t listened to it, you need to, because it’s a classic.
Maybe Andre Benjamin’s destiny was just to be good looking and sling men’s razors.
I mean, sure, Love Below is home to the band’s most popular song of all time (“Hey Ya!”) and a solid supporting single in “Roses.” But as I detailed yesterday, it suffers from a case of being much too sprawling and unfocused. I’d go a step further, even, and say that Big Boi’s involvement improved my opinion of the record.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Speakerboxxx is a surprising success, unquestionably the stronger first half of the two sides,. And and even though it took another 7 years for him to release more work as a solo project, Patton manages to establish himself as a capable solo artist, even without his more flamboyant partner in crime.
But at 15 tracks, 3 interludes and an intro, does it suffer from the same fate as The Love Below? After 1.5 listens through it, I don’t believe it does. For me, the guest appearances make all the difference in the world.
On “Bust,” guest Killer Mike bears the question: is there any rapper more capable of sounding pissed off? He exudes violence, even if he’s down with global warming. And on “Flip Flop Rock,” Jay-Z makes a forgettable appearance while Mike steals the show on this side… in spite of Ludacris, who ruins everything (namely, “Tomb of the Boom”). Whoops.
Speakerboxxx runs laps around its counterpart, but I never noticed that until the last two days. I guess I fell into the category of never paying it much mind except for the singles. I’m glad I fixed that.
From Big Boi’s side of OutKast’s double album, this is “Flip Flop Rock” –
Standout tracks: “The Rooster” and “Bust” and “Last Call”
Weakest track: “Bamboo” and “Tomb of the Boom”
RIYL: Mainstream rap. Killer Mike.