For all the
talk these days about who runs what in the South, not a single artist or group
can be mentioned in the same breath as Outkast.
Even the legendary Scarface and his
incredible career can’t be put on par with that of Andre Benjamin and Antwan
. Only a handful of Hip Hop artists in the last 30 years can claim a
comparable career. Outkast isn’t
just the greatest group in Hip Hop history; they have cemented their place
alongside The Beatles, Rolling Stones,
U2, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead
, etc. as one of the greatest groups
in the history of music.

With a handful of albums 4.5’s or better in the last twelve years, Outkast brings Idlewild with seemingly unreachable expectations and never-ending
controversy. Rumors, claims and debates of their status as a duo have been
raging for years now and regardless, people still expect a classic from the two
dope boys in a Cadillac. There is certainly something to be said about
expectations; they have led to great albums being called disappointments and
good careers being referred to as busts. It seems as though every artist(s)
always drops the ball at some point in their career, unable to maintain the
lofty platform they’d climbed to with past works. Given Outkast’s damn near flawless catalogue, the expectations for this
album are seemingly limitless.

Somehow, someway, they have done it again. As the accompanying movie would
indicate, Idlewild is on some
throwback to the 30’s swing era. It’s not hard to hear, the horns blast, the
pianos dance and the bass lines walk. Always the progressive pair, they bring
that 30’s sound to the new millennium; drums did pound like this 70 something
years ago. You know you’ve got a dope album when you’ve got 19 songs (25 tracks
all told) and there are at least 6 songs that could be the best song of the
year. The lead street single “The Mighty O” is somewhat of a return to their
mid 90’s sound and the first time Dre
and Big Boi rhyme together in over 5
years. Hearing Dre dust off his mic
and lace a blazing I-ain’t-missed-a-damn-step verse is pure goose bump
material. As is the ridiculous posse cut “Hollywood Divorce” featuring top
notch verses from Lil’ Wayne, Snoop and ‘Kast. Perhaps the most promising song comes in the form of “PJ
& Rooster.” If Dre continues to
lean towards singing rather than rapping, this is the type of material we could
be privy too. As much as I love hearing one of my all-time favorite emcees
rhyme, his singing is every bit as unbelievable on this swing set.

But of course, much of the album is solo tracks from 3000 and Daddy Fat Sacks.
The respective lead singles “Idlewild Blues” and “Morris Brown” are as good as
it gets, both perfect continuations from the ying-to-yang Speakerboxxx/Love Below styles. To little surprise, Andre is less prevalent than his slick-talking
counterpart. In addition to the aforementioned he chimes in with 5 solo cuts
that largely feature only his singing chops. “Chronomentrophobia” is the best
of the lot, and not just cause it’s capped off with him spitting. While “Makes
No Sense At All” is a little too out there for my tastes, “Life Is Like a
Musical,” “When I Look Into Your Eyes “and “Dyin’ To Live” are archetypical
great post-Stankonia Andre works. Big Boi does more than his share, blessing the LP with some of the
best in cuts in “N2U,” “The Train,” “In Your Dreams” and “Call The Law.” Though
it needs to be mentioned that songstress Janelle
absolutely steals the show on the incredible “Call The Law.”

As it is their habit, as the LP draws to a close they slow things down with that
“watching ceiling fans go round” music. Andre
and Whild Peach’s “Matron Angel” is
as dope as any song they’ve done that fits that billing (save of course “Spottieottiedopaliscious”).
I wouldn’t call the album perfect, as I could do without “Makes No Sense At All”
and the rather mundane “Greatest Show On Earth” with Macy Gray. But a classic album doesn’t necessarily have to be
perfect from front to back and Idlewild
is every bit the classic that their previous works have been. If you think in 5
years this album won’t be held in the same esteem as certified classics ATLiens and Aquemini then you’re sadly mistaken. Only the infinitely talented
duo known as Outkast could manage to
exceed the ridiculous expectations for this opus. Here is to hoping that the curtain
they alluded to on Aquemini isn’t
closing on the greatest twosome music has ever seen.

Check out J-23’s review of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below here