The Not So Mighty O
So the other day the new OutKast single, "The Mighty O," was leaked to the Internets. Andre 3000 makes his triumphant return to rappin' after getting his Morrissey on for most of The Love Below. He claims to be really into Morrissey, right? I think it was the other one who claimed to be a fan of Kate Bush. You see, the fact that they have such eclectic tastes in music shows that they're thinking!
I was all prepared to either talk about how really good or how really bad the new single is, but as it turns out, it's neither. "The Mighty O," instead, is decidedly okay. Assuming this is just some street single released to build buzz for the Idlewild album/soundtrack, I suppose it served its purpose, though it remains to be seen whether they can manage another "Hey Ya," or even another "Ms. Jackson."
In the mean time, I thought I'd take a look at an issue that's been bothering me for some time now. To hear so many kids on the Internets tell it, OutKast has put out - what is it, like five classic albums now? They're so good, in fact, neither one of them could come up with a bad idea if they wanted to. Andre 3000 even once shitted a solid gold brick.
I wonder how true that is though. So today I figured I'd take a look at the last several OutKast albums and re-rate them using XXL's patented XXL rating system, which I notice they recently used to give that new Mobb Deep abortion a 4-star rating. Damn.
Southernplayalistic, 1994. This is certainly an assured and accomplished album for a debut, but it's not the five-mic classic kris ex would have you believe. Organized Noise's production here is good for what it is, but doesn't hold up as well compared to some of the other shit they'd put out. From what I understand, 3000 was writing all of Big Boi's lyrics, and both of their flows were still derivative of a lot of the East Coast shit that was popular at the time.
ATLiens, 1996. Boooring. I know some dudes on the Internets consider this the best thing they've put out to this day, but the thing about the Internets is that for any album you can name (except maybe Blood Money), you can probably find some d-bag that thinks it's the next Heartbreaker, or whatever. That said, parts of this do show marked development compared to that first album. It's just that a lot of it is really tepid and tuneless.
Aquemimi, 1998. The first OutKast album that's really that good. In terms of rappin', both Andre 3000 and the other one had already begun to make strides on that last album. Andre 3000 was trying to kick knowledge, and Big Boi was even allowed to write some of his own lyrics. But it was on this album where their production really came into its own. That said, I don't find all of the songwriting here to be as good as it is on "Rosa Parks." Where as the next album is nails all the way through, this one still has a few tracks that are less than memorable.
Stankonia, 2000. The best OutKast album, evar. It picks up where Aquemini left off, but ditches a lot of the parts that are just kinda boring. If there's an issue here, and of course there is, it's that so much of this is purposely weird when it has no real reason to be. As I recall, this was released during the period when that damn Erykah Badu was doing a real number on Andre 3000's brain, having him dress like a homeless woman and what have you. A real shame, if you ask me.
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 2003. Better than it has any right to be. As it turns out, Andre 3000 might be better suited for making corny-ass pop records (who knew?), but the real revelation here is that Big Boi can almost carry an album as a solo rapper. For what it's worth, we've yet to see whether Andre 3000 himself has what it takes to carry a solo album, which is one of the reasons why he's not the greatest rapper of all time, despite what people will tell you. It's too bad they apparently weren't getting along at this point. This album could've been the shit.