Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 08.26.12 in Reviews

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below


It was a break-up record without any real allusions to the break-up. Instead, they holed up in their separate corners and emerged with radically distinct versions of the Outkast legacy. Andre’s half tried to establish him as some kind of twisted pop auteur, and the massive success of “Hey Ya!” brought the “group” an unprecedented kind of popularity. Despite its occasionally heavy-handed conceptualism, there were some truly gorgeous tunes here — the melted thump of “Prototype,” the showtunes-soul of “Roses,” the IV-drip desperation of “Pink and Blue.” Weirdly, Speakerboxxx is probably a better indicator of how extreme Outkast could have gotten had they stayed a mere rap duo. Dre deserved praise for his bewitchingly strange pop but Big’s side was just as adventurous: the electro-onslaught of “Ghettomusick,” the barnyard funk of “Bowtie,” the brutally sweet melancholy of “Unhappy.” The strange thing about the final “proper” Outkast album was that it yielded so few clues about Dre and Big’s deteriorating relationship over the course of its two hours. They had already moved on, past where anyone could catch them.