But if I can dedicate a week to opera, surely I can dedicate a week to rap. So to paraphrase my mother, that’s what I’ll do.
Starting things off is a track from the Speakerboxxx half of Outkast’s smash 2003 release Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. That record, which won the Album of the Year Grammy and sold more than 5.5 million copies (of a double album), marked the peak of the band’s career. Their only subsequent release was the mostly ignored soundtrack album to a film they conceived, 2006’s Idlewild.
But Speakerboxxx/The Love Below shows Big Boi and André 3000 at their most creative and funky. The album is actually two solo albums pckaged together, with Big Boi delivering the more traditional southern rap on Speakerboxxx and André 3000 freaking out all over the place on The Love Below.
At first I was more intrigued by André 3000’s contribution, which features the huge hit ‘Hey Ya’ and plenty of oddball Prince-esque (Prince-ish?) funk detours. But over time I found myself gravitating more toward Big Boi’s beat-tastic work on Speakerboxxx. It’s a little bit harder, I think, to play things straight and still come up with something fresh and exciting.
‘The Rooster’ is a fine example. Big Boi raps about his family problems over a frenetic horn loop that revs up the verses and grounds the chorus. He’s working with the basic tricks of the trade but delivering something special.
`Cause my baby mama left me
Now there’s nobody at home
Beginning to feel like Ms. Jackson done got cloned!
Well it’s some real shit and I’m lving it through this song!
A moving vehicle took my family
As I slept out on the sofa in the Boom Boom Room
I woke up very upset!
I throw the covers back and peek out of the draperies
My daughter, my baby, my baby mama all escaping me!
In the wind, she was my friend
Like Princess Di before she died
Therefore we tried and tried again
But in the end you pay attention to the pluses
But the minuses behind make it seem like you can’t win!
[Hook:] Throw your neck out! Throw your back out! [4x]
[Verse 2:] Round two, a single parent, what is Big to do?
Throw a parrty? Not hardly!! i’m trying to stay up outta that womb!!
Or that p-u-s-s uss! I said uss!
Luther Vandross couldn’t make a home out of this house that we smooshed
Smashed, pushed to the limit! Smash and turned it timid!
Hell everyone was suffering, the house was feeling wicked hell
The cat got sold, the dog got old, the food got cold!
Both of our tempers were on swolle
For the most most part you fuss, fight, fart!
You build it up to break it down and now take it from the start
Repeatedly leading a path that only ends in a clash
Of two stubborn minds, grown folks blind to the sign!
[Verse 3:] K-O, knocked out by technicality
The love has kissed the canvas
Now the whole family is mad at me
My daughter don’t want me at her PTA meetings
And then my son he can’t talk, when I change him he’s peeing
I think he’s pissed!
I can’t dismiss the matter of the fact because he saw you and me argue
Now the energy is coming back
Set an example, a positive pattern, keep life on track
But I’m married to the music and committed to the wax, tapes, CDS
Baby please, you make me want to scream!
You’re on my team starting first string so why are we arguing?