The Biggest Band On The Planet Hails From...Atlanta??? (2000-2004)
Andre 3000 switches from a turban to an Adams Family Cousin Itt wig, all the while flexing his muscles as hip-hop's best MC holding a mic. Big Boi expands his hard-boiled rhyme palette and makes a powerful case that he is riding shotgun with The Roots' Black Thought as the most criminally slept-on lyricist in modern rap history. Indeed, when OutKast's fourth release Stankonia hits the public consciousness, the ATL representatives are celebrated as the leaders of the new school. And such glowing talk is not just smoke-projected hype. Would anyone else on the musical landscape be insane enough to release the million-beats-per-minute freak-flag anthem "B.O.B." as a single? Could you imagine another hip-hop act taking critical aim at show-offs who wave extravagance around like a badge of honor ("Red Velvet") without coming off as above-it-all sidewalk preachers? "Cap, cap, ya link snap, you slumped off in ya Cadillac/For what though, some diamonds and a Bentley what you dying for?" questions a sober Big Boi. This is greatness.
'Kast, however, is looking past their rap brethren. The double set Speakerboxx/The Love Below shows a band at the height of its artistic and commercial powers. Yes, the press views the Grammy winning Album of the Year as emphatic proof that the longtime partners-in-rhyme were drifting apart in different musical directions. Andre embraces his inner long-haired rock-star ("Hey Ya") as Big dives head first into the juke house blues, soul and funk influences that shaded some of OutKast's earlier work ("The Way You Move"). But the ambitious statement more than makes its underlining point: Radiohead is no longer the most important force on the popular music scene. OutKast is king.