I used to love Outkast. From 1994 to 2003 Big Boi and Andre 3000 created some of the best Hip-Hop* music we'll ever hear, and boy was it a great run. Five classic albums, dozens of great songs; I've compared Outkast to The Beatles before, and I still stick by my comparison Ford. Big Boi and Dre are to hip-hop as John and Paul are to...well, pretty much every music genre.
But things came to an end in 2006**, both in terms of Outkast's winning streak and my unabashed love for them. Idlewild, a barely mediocre soundtrack/album for a terrible film, killed my affection for the duo. The less said about that album the better***, but if you want to read/reread my pain in real time, hop in the throwback machine.
Four years later, hope exists. Big Boi, whose first solo album (haven't the last two 'Kast releases essentially been solo albums?) has been in label-related limbo for over a year, recently signed to Def Jam, and by all accounts Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty will drop in May****.
Normally I'd be skeptical. But one subpar album in a catalog containing five classic ones is far from a slump, even if it has been three and a half years since Idlewild burned my ears. The four tracks I've heard so far have gotten me more excited about hip-hop than I've been in a long time*****. Big Boi, out of the game for far too long, still has his fastball.
Here's hoping the four tracks embedded below -- in order, from first to fourth, of my love for them -- are a harbinger of greatness and not analogous to film trailers that only highlight their movies' big moments to mask the suckage, sorta like how spurious Korean barbecue joints slather rancid pork in hot-sauce marinade.
Dre hasn't lost a step. What an incredible verse. Epic. Did Big Boi call for Obama's impeachment? I love how Rae has switched up his flow each time he's guested with Outkast.
"I'm shittin' on niggas and peeing on the seat"! A Soul II Soul reference!
Too Short! George Clinton! Boi's second verse is Evil Otto.
Not a huge fan of this, but it's still a good track******. Predictably, Pitchfork gave it a 9, probably because those contradictory pretendsetters love Gucci Mane and tend to embrace/appropriate mediocre rappers whose careers won't achieve jack (see: The Clipse, Cam'ron), much in the same way instant-expert hipster NBA fans overrate certain players. (It's called the Free Darko effect, and, yes, hipsters have infiltrated NBA fandom.)
* KRS ONE told me to capitalize it.
** The Miami Heat won a title in '06, but, man, 2006 was a shitty year for me.
*** More proof that I have battered husband syndrome: I listened to the album for free on Outkast's Myspace page, realized it sucked yet still bought the CD when it was released a week later, and just last year I downloaded it because, Idlewild, why don't you love me?
**** Know what won't drop in May? Iron Man 2. Instead, it's opening in the ROK eight days earlier than its North American release of May 7th. Score one for the home away from home team!
***** I really like Cuban Linx 2, but it's like the NBA in the years after Jordan retired for the second time: the talent pool is so small that, by current standards, it sticks out more for being a very good album surrounded by dookies on wax than for being an all-time classic. (See also: Robert De Niro in Ronin.)
****** When Legs called me a few hours ago to ask how my day was going, I told her, "I'm up on my grind, shawtay." So it has a cliched Bill Murray quote from Caddyshack.