Cover article: Outkast | The FADER

Both men have always focused on contributing, studying what is missing in the music at any given time and creating something to fill that void. The two have been working on their music separately for years now – many people might be surprised to learn that Big Boi and Andre have recorded most of it. Stankonia at different times, often without crossing paths for days or even weeks. Knowing this, the concept of a double album with each contributing their own separate record (they appear, of course, on each other, and the two have also produced music for both albums) offers them the opportunity to continue to explore the things that are important to them now.

For Andre, it’s a return to feeling, to emotion – things that show up best in R&B and black popular music of the late ’60s and’ 70s, or even the early ’80s. true rhythm and blues was made alive and to music by the vulnerability of the toughest cats – Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Bobby Womack, and later Prince – men who recognized and embraced the power of beauty and the importance of, well, true love. André’s record, Love below, is, according to him, about “relationships and love and hatred of love”. Granted, some of the music on his album was originally intended for a movie about falling in love in Paris that he developed in late 2001, but he doesn’t disagree when I suggest that women have been one. central theme of his work for several years now. ([“After you become successful] you get all these different women. But at the same time, you really don’t have anything, ”he laughs). a line that André sang over and over in a high falsetto: You make me feel like a 10th grade lunch. Then there was “Miss Telescope”, which is I’m looking for a star / But I’m just a comet. They’re three-year-old songs, but it seems the subject matter of much of André’s work hasn’t changed much in all this time. At the time of going to press, only a handful of songs for Love below were finished, and according to him, the overwhelming majority will feature him only singing, not rapping. Anthony Middleton, who has worked with Outkaat in one capacity or another since Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, the band’s debut album, says, “It’s almost like the stars have to be aligned in a certain way for him to write.”

Yes, he can be invaluable at times – “He needs that acceptance of the masses,” Big Boi says – but it is no exaggeration to say that he is extremely talented as a musician. I once heard a piano composition he wrote called “Blueberry Mansions” that would make an adult cry. One of his priorities right now is to discipline himself enough to perfect the guitar, which he has been studying for a few years, and the saxophone, which he recently bought.
Big Boi calls him “a musical genius” (although he later adds, “Dre was always talking about the fear of slowing down. I don’t even think about that shit. All I think about is wonder what the next one will look like “).

The heroes and influences of Big Boi are those strong black men of decades past who refused to compromise or sacrifice their music or their manhood – James Brown, Gil Scott Heron, Sly Stone, whose likes were rarely spotted in music. popular since then, certainly not in the hip-hop “game” he so often refers to. “For Loudspeakerx, I probed from 1968 to 1973, “he says. Everything on his record reflects that – bubbling, enlightened criticism of the US government, as you will hear on” Tic Tic Boom, “which features lovely Indian vocals but then unfolds into one long, furious verse condemning the recent war in the Middle East – in all fairness, a huge leap for Big Boi, the type of rap song that makes going back inevitable just because he raps so hard that you have to type in every word. Then there’s the shameless sex politics of “Rooster,” a song that thematically could almost follow “Ms Jackson” (this time he’s talking directly to his wife instead of his step-in-law). mother), where he raps You’re on my team / Start channel 1 / So why are we arguing?; the straightforward funk of “Bowtie”, all big horns and Don’t jive me, sucka chorus which makes it a song that would have worked just as easily on the soundtrack for Uptown Saturday night. “It was the feeling I was looking for,” he says. “The music was full, it had no specific direction, it was not structured [where] you have an intro, you go in a hook, you have another verse, you go in a bridge, and then you go out – you can do whatever you want. I was looking for funk. ”

Squire Recently quoted him as saying that he had also listened to a lot of Ray Charles lately, a man widely credited with infusing secular music of the 50s and 60s with a strong gospel constitution. So it makes sense that in addition to being supremely funky, Loudspeakerx is full of power and frenzied energy that is sometimes tempered by thoughtful, thoughtful and melancholic undertones.

In today’s hip-hop “laid back rapper” climate, as Big Boi calls it, addressing current events is not the norm. “A lot of people are playing the fool today. I’m going to make myself a song called “Everybody Play Dumb,” he said. “If you have the whole world as a forum, you can talk about more than tennis shoes and jewelry. My mic hits so many ears I’m going to say something. Fuck that. I’m not going to shut up.”

After ten exciting and successful years, it would be inaccurate to say that Big Boi is unaffected by what appears to be André’s removal from Outkast, especially if it comes at a time when he is more confident than ever in his own work. “He doesn’t want to rhyme? Cool, I’ll do it for both of us,” he insists. “He doesn’t have to rhyme if he doesn’t want to, because I’ve got this over here.”

Loudspeakerx has been ready for release for months now; Big Boi’s impatience grew steadily during this period. For his part, Andre says, “Big Boi is sick of waiting, I’m sick of compromising.” So where does that leave Outkast? The third, unmentioned side of the altruistic “compromise-respect” triangle that Big Boi attributes to Special Outkast is “sacrifice”. The word never comes up in my conversations with either of the men. There is no love lost on one side or the other; and although the two admit that their friendship has been tested by their success, they are as loyal and protective of each other now as they must have been in The Sacrifices. they each agreed to catch up with them.

Ironically, by being half of Outkast, Big Boi sacrificed the very unwillingness to sacrifice and compromise that his idols imprinted on their audiences, as well as his competitive momentum; by teaming up with Big Boi, Andre had to sacrifice his vulnerability, the cloak of loneliness he wraps himself in to work at his own pace. With this separation comes a feeling of freedom that could propel each man and his music to places even if they didn’t know they could go.

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