It's an audible novel...
Why wait for the conclusion. Let’s cut to the chase. ‘Stankonia’ (pronounced Stank-O-nee-ya) is the best hip-hop album of the year so far. Take Mos Def’s willingness to experiment, Common’s intelligence and Kool Keith’s futuristic rhymes and thread it together with some southern fried Atlanta funk and some complex concepts on life, and you get a rather simplistic if passable description of what you might find on this album.
What is impressive is that ‘Stankonia’ is Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s fourth album, exhibiting creative evolution rare in contemporary hip-hop. They’ve also hit that rare balance of creative eccentricity and mass appeal – with their previous albums Southernplayalistcadillacmuzik’ , ‘ATLiens’ and ‘Aquemini’ each going platinum in the States.
Brave and bold, in terms of movement between albums, Outkast are, perhaps, hip-hop’s equivalent of Prince in the 1980s. The rapping is swift, and yet articulate. Fortunately, a lyric sheet is provided, hence you’ll discover and appreciate the full depth of their philosophies. Whether it’s their plea to their expectant babymother’s mama that they’re responsible men on ‘Ms Jackson’ or the contrast they make on ‘Humble Mumble’ (featuring Erykah Badu) between life’s true beauty and society’s reality, Outkast conceptually excel. While musically, real instrumentation makes long, seductive love with contemporary technology to produce a lush and varied soundscape.
Conscious, spiritual, stark and honest, Outkast’s diverse and innovative style maybe hard to digest at first, but this has that little something special that Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’ and De La Soul’s ‘Three Feet High & Rising’ had. It’s an audible novel. Meaning that it has eternal qualities that will unravel in time on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. A classic album that represents, as Outkast say on ‘B.O.B.’, “Power music, electric revival.”
Derek A Bardowell