OutKast’s ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary
On Sept., 23, 2003, OutKast released their classic hip-hop double album, ‘Speakerboxx/The Love Below.’ This effort was a landmark achievement for the Atlanta duo and cemented them as one of the best rap duos of all-time.
At 20 songs apiece, ‘Speakerboxxx’ and ‘The Love Below’ are two solo albums packaged into one. The first disc, by Big Boi, sounds like a follow-up to the psychedelic vibe of the pair’s previous LP, ‘Stankonia.’ The second disc, by Andre 3000, was far removed from hip-hop. It’s experimental and adorning, plus it featured him singing for the first time.
On ‘Speakerboxxx,’ Big Boi put the P-Funk into hip-hop, and offers some of the funkiest (or crunk-iest) rap music of its time. Guest appearances from Ludacris, Jay Z, Killer Mike and Lil Jon come through with lyrical assists since Andre is barely featured on the songs.
Standout tracks include the energetic ‘Ghetto Musick,’ the gospel-infused ‘Church,’ the bouncy Jay Z-assisted ‘Flip Flop Rock,’ the soulful grooves of ‘Reset,’ the crunk anthem ‘Last Call’ featuring Lil Jon and the doo-wop banger, ‘The Way You Move’ with Sleepy Brown.
“I love hip hop. I love funk music. Funky ass hip-hop. Whatever it is,” said Big Boi about his ‘Speakerboxxx’ album in 2003. “As long as that s— can strike a nerve like ‘Ooh!’ make you feel that s—. That’s what I like.”
“I just feel like the time is right for our album to drop,” he continues. “I feel like, I don’t really worry about how people are gonna take it — as long as I know it’s funky and it’s true to what I’m doing and we’ve been doing.”
Andre 3000’s ‘Love Below’ album is a wistful trip into those romantic pitfalls we often find ourselves in when it comes to love and relationships.
“‘The Love Below’ is like, that bubbling feeling under,” Three Stacks explained to Mass Appeal magazine in 2003. “People always talk about — especially players, pimps, or whatever — they’re always talkin’ about, ‘Yeah, I’m cool, I don’t need no bitches. I’m straight. We don’t love these hoes.’ But I think, deep down, everybody wants somebody. And no matter what you think, if you’re supposed to be in love, it’s gonna grow up like a weed, you know? It’s just gonna come through the cracks. It’s that bubbling under, that passion.”
On the collection, Andre sings for the first time and experiments with different genres and sounds with confidence and brilliance.
Influences of Earth, Wind & Fire (‘Prototype’), Prince (the fantastic ‘She Lives in My Lap’), Shuggie Otis (‘Pink & Blue’) and Beck (‘Dracula’s Wedding’) are found on the album. In addition, the drum-n-bass cover of John Coltrane’s ‘My Favorite Things’ is a beautiful club banger.
Finally, for those complaining about Andre singing and not rapping on the album, ‘A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre (Incomplete)’ features Three Stacks spitting autobiographical rhymes for seven minutes without a pause.
But the album’s centerpiece is, undoubtedly, the infectious ‘Hey Ya,’ which is still one of the most catchiest, danceable songs in hip-hop.
The accompanying video, directed by Bryan Barber, was inspired by the Beatles’ historic 1964 appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ In the clip, Andre portrays eight members of rock band the Love Below. In the opening scene, the band’s manager Antwan (played by Big Boi) warns the lead vocalist, Ice Cold 3000, that he needs to stop acting like a diva and perform his best on the show.
For their efforts, ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ garnered artistic and commercial success with five-star reviews from most critics and a No. 1 plateau on the Billboard 200 chart.
At the 2004 Grammy Awards, ‘Kast won the Best Rap Album trophy and the coveted Album of the Year honor, which was a historic achievement for hip-hop. Although Andre 3000’s outfit and performance at the ceremony drew some outrage with Native Americans.
Over the years, the album has been certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of 10 million copies in the U.S.
In the end, OutKast’s ‘Speakerboxxx/Love Below’ is an unadulterated classic that sounds as great today as it did 10 years ago. It’s an album that still stands the test of time.
Sadly, OutKast hasn’t recorded a studio album together since their 2006 album, ‘Idlewild,’ which is the soundtrack to the tandem’s musical film of the same name.
Seven years later, fans are still yearning for a reunion album from the eclectic duo.
“We talk and communicate and we still come to each other’s homes, our kids play together,” said Big Boi when asked about a reunion on HuffPost Live. “When you’ve been doing music for so long together, you don’t have to be joined hip to hip. I know that’s what the world wants to see right now, but we’re just trying to do our own thing right now.”
Watch OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya!’ Video
Watch OutKast’s ‘The Way You Move’ Video Feat. Sleepy Brown
Watch OutKast’s ‘Roses’ Video
Watch OutKast’s ‘Prototype’ Video