OutKast season continues with 2000's classic 'Stankonia'. OutKast was one of the biggest names in hip hop at the time, and with the single 'Ms. Jackson' taking OutKast to the mainstream - all eyes were on them for what was to be their biggest album to date - and they definitely didn't disappoint.
I think the production on this album isn't as good as the last few, but overall it's still really good. It's very funk based with some banger beats in there too, such as 'Spaghetti Junction' with it's catchy, funky beat as the pair talk on violence and ganglife with André providing insightful and emotional lyrics and Big Boi providing some decent punchlines. It's a classic OutKast track - funky, a catchy hook and great rapping make this a perfect representation of their music. The two rappers going back and forth was entertaining too. The key elements include: groovy, catchy drum patterns, funky instrumentals and synth keys. 'Red Velvet' has stuttery synth keys giving us a catchy and great beat as the rappers tell us the dangers of showing off too often, Big Boi providing some thought-provoking lines "Prioritize to live to tell these other n***** how you // Bought yo' kid some tennis shoes // Let these brothers know that your mama she got her house too // Let these n***** know that your sister wouldn't have finished // College.. without you". The hook is pretty annoying, André's voice here was slightly annoying too but other than that the flows are solid are it's a great song. 'Toilet Tisha' has this futuristic, electronic type beat creating such a vibe as André sets the scene before Big Boi comes in with the main verse giving us a detailed, emotional and vivid spoken word piece as the song is about a 14 year old girl who gets pregnant, and is ashamed to tell her parents about it - and it's implied she ends up taking her own life. Such a vibe is created with this song and overall it's very inviting yet emotional.
OutKast themselves as usual were very good here, with slick wordplay, punchlines as well as more thought provoking verses throughout - it's what we expect of them at this point. Also both still have immaculate flows at this point in time. 'Gasoline Dreams' provides us some thoughtful lines from Big Boi,"Arrest me for this dope I didn't weight it up or cook it // You gotta charge the world cause over a million people took it", as the rappers provide great verses and impactful bars as they talk on problems in life such as racsim, drugs, pollution and ill behaviour over this rock influenced beat and electric guitar which unfortunately sounds a bit cheap. Khujo's feature was nice with a mean delivery and nice flow and he provided religious imagery and a verse on the apocalypse with some hard lines, "If they kick us out, where will we go? // Not to Africa cause not one of them acknowledge us as their kin folk". I wasn't a fan of the mixing on Dre's verse (I get it's meant to sound like that but it don't sound good), and while it's a decent song it's not the best here and keeps up the trend of OutKast openers being some of the weakest songs on the album. "You can plan a pretty picnic but you can't predict the weather" André poetically says on the classic 'Ms. Jackson' as this track focuses on baby mama problems with André using it to apologist to his ex Erykah Budu's mother for hurting her daughter. Big Boi's verse see's the baby mother instigating custody battles, taking paychecks from the child for herself - beefing both baby mama and baby mama’s mama over this catchy swooshing beat and retro keyboard with some great lines, "And let her know her grandchild is a baby and not a pay check". The hook is one of the best hooks over packed with such emotion and being so catchy as both rappers flows are impeccable, and whole song is amazing and arguably OutKast’s best - you can see how this blew up. I don’t have words to describe just how good this is, if you’ve heard it - you’d know (one of my favourite pieces of music ever made) - it doesn't just sound good it has meaning too. On '?', we get André 3000 only as he asks us a bunch of questions, all negative, and all the answers to the questions are alcohol. He makes some good points to be honest providing vivid metaphors in the process, "What can make a n**** wanna cut a beauty queen raw // Feeling every drip drop she can generate, imitate seesaws?", as this fast paced beat with this crazy keyboard works well for a small interlude in-between tracks.
The features on here were great for the most part - some better than others. OutKast were always the best part of the track however for most of these songs. B-Real from Cypruss Hill join OutKast on 'Xplosion' and while he has a great verse and spits the truth, "Fuck XXL—you're a size too small // I should hire Eminem so we can kill you all // Whether you live to talk shit about the Real", his voice was quite annoying and I couldn't get past that - the hook was good though from him. The track just focuses on their music being the bomb, Big Boi provides some solid punchlines, "Got this thang licked like stamps and nine-volt battery end caps", and Dre's verse is quite poetic over these menacing piano keys and groovy drums. It's a great track but doesn’t live up to others however (I can’t even explain why just don’t love it like I love other tracks). Gangsta Boo has this great swagger in her voice on 'I'll Call Before I Come' giving us a great verse and Eco uses funny imagery, and a fire flow to give us a solid verse, "But shit you'd better call before you get here and that's a fact // Before you get your feelings hurt // Because you caught me playing nurse // Wit a stethoscope running around in one of those cute short white skirts". The track is all about sex and satisfying both partners needs over this catchy and animated beat which is fun and catchy like the song. André just has this way of wording things which is great on the track and Big Boi provides a solid verse with a few good punchlines as this silly but catchy song is fun and an easy listen - demonstrated by the hook. CeeLo Green has a great feature on 'Slum Beautiful' as he gives us this vibey and spacey hook as well as having great space imagery throughout his verse over this psychedelic and groovy beat as the song focuses on their mistresses (being slum beautiful). Dre has a short verse with nice imagery and Big Boi provides some witty ounchlines, "And once I done had some Cuervo 'bout six shots I'm nothin to play wit // Like plug sockets and babies, possums, raccoons, and rabies", but while it wasn't bad I wasn't feeling this much and have to say CeeLo kind of carried.
Content wise again it's not the most cohesive but it just takes ideas and runs with it in great detail. It's another socially conscious project, masked with a mainstream sound to try get their points across to the masses. 'B.O.B' talks on the state of hoods and the ghetto with solid verses and thought provoking words from André as well as some great metaphors, "Weather man tellin' us it ain't gon' rain // So now we sittin' in a drop-top, soakin' wet", - a metaphor for how critics said they'd never make it big - and obviously they did. The whole track was intense and fast to represent their racing thoughts (demonstrated by the beat), as Big Boi came in so hard with his amazing flow and the sample was used perfectly - an amazing song. 'Humble Mumble' see's Big Boi talk on how nothing is handed to us in life while André talks on using hip-hop for social change. The African drums give this nice vibe before the beat drops quickly as the intensity picks up. The quick pace of the song works well with the quick hook and flows, and Erykah Badu provides nature imagery as she compares life to that of plants with great vocals giving us a nice edition. Overall a great song. 'Gangsta Shit' goes back to OutKast's roots and talks on the gangsta life. Big Boi was too short for impact while André provides decent punchlines and some hard bars. Black Owned C Bone has a great verse with a fire flow and cadence as well as solid bars, and both Slimm Calhoun & T-Mo give us solid verses. Everyone does their job here, and this quick paced and aggressive track is dismaying.
Other tracks to look at include 'So Fresh, So Clean' which is all about sex and being 'fresh' and 'clean' (in a flexing way) over this bouncy melody and groovy beat as the rappers provide a pretty addicting hook and vibey track. 'Snappin' and Trappin'' features Run The Jewels MC Killer Mike who gives us some witty punchlines and great bars as well as a hard delivery to give us a great verse, "Guaranteed to get more cut than a barber // I betcha I'll drill your heifer like Black & Decker // The pussy wrecker and White Water couldn't get it wetter". Big Boi's rhyme scheme is great here, as they verbal assault their enemies (and talk about getting head) over this techno/electronic groovy yet aggressive beat. The style of the track is unique and sounds good partnered with the hook. 'We Luv Deez Hoez' has this ridiculously catchy hook and wet mwoab synths as the tracks basically revolves around you can't make a hoe a housewife. Big Boi has some funny lines "I made her eat my meat while I was rubbin' her coochie // Injection in her top and bottom lip straight from her booty", while Backbone gives a decent enough verse and Big Gipp tells us a funny story with his entertaining, raspy delivery. The finale 'Stankonia (Stanklove)' has these groovy guitar riffs and vocal samples to create a grand finale feeling as the track is all about the girl they love. Big Rube has a poetic and vivid verse as Sleepy Brown also has a poetic verse with flower imagery throughout, "Let me show your mind a new freaky side of love // Open up you flower please let me taste your love // Honeysuckle sweet, can't stop till I get every drip drop on my tongue". The chanting of "Stank love" is appealing for a weird reason and again the track creates a vibe - it just doesn't hold up to the best of the best on this album.
To conclude, 'Stankonia' is yet another amazing album in the discography of OutKast. Easily their most mainstream and with their catchiest hooks it has so many fun moments used to get the deeper meaning across to the masses. The interludes found all throughout this project are good for the most part and lead into the next song perfectly. With 4 classics in a row and every one of them being great, it was now time for OutKast to try pull it off for a 5th time consecutively - the question is would they?
FAVOURITE TRACKS: So Fresh, So Clean, Ms. Jackson, Snappin' and Trappin', Spaghetti Junction, I'll Call Before I Come, B.O.B, We Luv Deez Hoez, Humble Mumble, Gangsta Shit, Toilet Tisha
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Gasoline Dreams
OVERALL RATING: Solid 9/10