Label wrangles have left the OutKast man’s solo album André 3000-free, but it’s still a stunning listen
The first [a]OutKast[/a]-related fare since 2006’s Idlewild soundtrack reveals what Antwan ‘[a]Big Boi[/a]’ Patton’s been up to while partner André 3000 plays dandy with his luxury clothing line. The album’s path to the shelves has been beset by OutKast’s label, Jive. First, Patton revealed, the label passed on it, telling him he’d made “a piece of art” (which makes you wonder exactly what they think they’re selling). It found a new home at Def Jam – but then, Jive added injury to insult by forcing Patton to remove the numerous [a]André 3000[/a] guest spots… because that’d make a new OutKast album, right?
What’s finally made it is an expansive, guest-packed 57 minutes that recall the Southern hip-hop bounce of 2003’s [b]‘Speakerboxxx’[/b], but with an added twist of maturity. On one hand, it is an album about mourning – the titular Chico Dusty is a reference to his late father. At the same time, though, it features Patton rapping in character, as personas including Sir Lucious Left Foot, General Patton and Hot Tub Toney. Topics include religion, conspiracy theories, and – inevitably – sex, all done with a sense of play .
Certainly, ‘Sir Lucious…’ is the sound of a man with something to prove. You know [b]‘Shutterbug’[/b], an ’80s-tinged club banger with ’60s guitar twang. The excellent [b]‘Tangerine’[/b], featuring TI, is tribal hip-hop with mind-melting guitar ripped off Funkadelic’s [b]‘Maggot Brain’[/b]. And it’s hard to imagine who else could piece together a track like ‘Fo Yo Sorrows’, a spooked spliff anthem featuring George Clinton, pimp rapper Too $hort and crooner Sam Chris. Not everything works. [b]‘Be Still’[/b] is a waste of the brilliant Janelle Monae. Mostly, though, you leave knocked sideways by Patton’s fluid vision. “I spray like the backside of a skunk”, he raps. No need to hold your nose. Breathe it in.
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