Outkast : Ghetto Musick

A mould breaker

Of course, even before their brains expanded out of their skulls and had to be kept in pulsating glass vats in a secret laboratory behind the Boom Boom Room, they were the rap Beatles, the Radiohead that could ‘stank’. As the only men in hip-hop not content to sit back on their bitches and bling all the way to the bank – and definitely the only rap group that’ve ever heard of The Coral – Outkast were star-grasping innovators eagerly taking a scalpel to the vital organs of a stone-writ formula. Garage beats? Prince? Androgyny? Gospel choirs? Elephants, clown’s trousers and cute singing owls? In (I)rap music(I)? And no guns, homophobia or misogyny AT ALL?!? What sort of whack up jive ass shit was (I)this(I), you crazy bitch muthafukkkazzzz!?! Cha’mon!

‘Stankonia’ crowned Big Boi and Andre 3000 as the Lennon and McCartney to NWA’s Chuck Berry but, as the producers of (I)Nevermind The Buzzcocks(I) never found, too much talent in one room makes for fireworks. So, from Big Boi’s largely independently recorded half of new album ‘Speakerboxx/The Love

Below’ comes ‘Ghetto Musick’ (Andre merely ‘guests’, apparently), as dazzling and ground-breaking an introduction to the record(s) as ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ was to ‘Stankonia’. We open on a distinctly 1996 UK techno ram-raid in The Prodigy’s souped-up Cortina, Andre bawling hyper-speed rhymes from the shotgun seat like AK bullets. Then SQEEEEEEAALLL! We pull up at Big Boi’s crib, where he’s attempting the most polite seduction routine since (I)Remains Of The Day(I) – whispering “(I)feelin’ good, feelin’ great/Feelin’ great, feelin’ good, how are you?(I)” over Barry White soul plinks and (we shit you not) a (I)Patti Labelle sample(I). Like its mother album, ‘Ghetto Musick’ is two records in one, a stark contrast of the conflicting characters that created it. But it’s also a mould breaker, a vast broadening of rap’s horizons; as much musick from the ghettos of Basildon or Walthamstow as Atlanta or Philly. Let’s see where those bullet wounds get you now, eh 50?