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coverpic flag US - Georgia - Full Moon 87 - 11/09/03

Outkast
Speakerboxx / The Love Below
Arista

Check! Stop! After their big worldwide breakthrough with the Stankonia (2000) album and its massive hit single "Ms. Jackson" Outkast had to think BIG this time. And...? Yes, a double album, holding more than two hours (some 135 minutes) of music! Speakerboxx/The Love Below, their fifth album since the debut in 1994, is actually a "solo" album. Speakerboxx is the disc of Antwan "Big Boi" Patton, The Love Below is André "Dre/3000" Benjamin's musical lovenest. Go!

It's not that they totally keep to their disc - they contribute to each other, both in co-writing, as well as singing and rapping. Because thy're still Outkast, and their sound is intact, but more varied, spread out on two discs. Outkast has been one of the Southern (Atlanta, GA) hip-hop 'gangs' (eh, a gang of two... well, there's a lot of little helpers around - one song is co-written with Isaac Hayes), spreading their lively and highly entertaining music. Dripping with positivity and humor (and sexual innuendo - maybe not that discreet...), with extreme melody and charm. Let's start with Big Boi. He's more of the rapper type bigmouth gangsta style, but with loads of soul and funk elements put into his mixture. His Speakerboxx almost explodes with the energy of "GhettoMusick" (by André Benjamin), coming after the usual intro (there are many breaks / pauses / interludes). Then there's this wonderful contrast between tracks like the smooth latino / bossa novaish "The Way You Move" (featuring Sleepy Brown) and the dark and brutal sounding ghost-story "Bust" (featuring Killer Mike). Other fave Big Boi tracks are "Tomb Of The Boom" (featuring Konkrete, Big Gipp & Ludacris), "Flip Flop Rock" (featuring Killer Mike & Jay-Z) and "Last Call" (featuring Slimm Calhoun, Lil' Jon & The East Side Boyz & Mello).

On the other side Dre3000, with his The Love Below, sounds more lovesick and horny as ever, almost dripping with, eh, juices. He's the slick snake charmer, but also the loveable family man. A Casanova stud, but also the messenger of sweetness. Making and spreading love, as he introduce himself on the extremely catchy and dancable "Happy Valentine's Day": "My name is Cupid Valentino, the modern day cupid...". The music and sound of The Love Below is stunningly well-produced. Sometimes it's almost too much of it. Like in the opening track, the big band ' sounding "Love Hater", with Dre crooning like it's taken from some vintage glossy film musical show. But he comes up with the most magnificent and blissful tunes, like the mentioned "...Valentine...", "Spread", "Pink & Blue", "Dracula's Wedding" (featuring Kelis) and the smash-hit "Hey Ya!" (guided by a funny video, presenting the band The Love Below playing a British tv-show in front of screeeeeeeeaaaaming girl-fans. It's Love Below-mania, and of course Dre 'plays' all 5 roles in the band, plus the additional 3 backing singers). Finally there's the more calmed downed pieces like "Take Off Your Cool" (featuring Norah Jones), which is more of a instrumental nature, and the, eh, vibrating "Vibrate".

Speakerboxx / The Love Below is massive. In all senses. And 135 minutes is a long journey these days. But thinking of all the stories you get on the way the time is well spent. Inbetween it's way too much but a masterpiece nevertheless. Fact. Break!

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