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"Aquemini" is the thirs album from the Atlanta rap duo, OutKast (consisting of the two MCs: André 3000 and Big Boi). This album was released in 1998, two years after "ATLiens", and showed that the group had managed to build up a strong fan base as this went straight up to #2 in the States. However at this time they remained relatively unknown in the UK until their next album "Stankonia", which had tracks such as "So Fresh, So Clean", "B.O.B." and "Ms. Jackson".
1. "Hold On, Be Strong" (Intro)
2. "Return Of The 'G'"
I didn't really find this to be the best way to get you into the mood for some of OutKast's music as it displayed a differnt side to them, in comparison to the two earlier releases. It was as if they were attempting to win over fans which they started out with, who may not have been as keen on "ATLiens".
However, although it didn't sound as appealing to the traditionalists, it was strong in terms of the delivery and lyrical ability as in particualr Dre's four verses-worth of raps show a great level of depth and understanding of conscious Hip Hop.
3. "Rosa Parks"
This track is dedicated to the civil rights activist who famously refused to give up her bus seat for a white passager in 1955. Unfortunately it was not received well by the family of her who thought her name was benig put in a bad light despite no offensive lyrics towards her. "Ah ha, hush that fuss / Everybody move to the back of the bus" were the only words of this single which were actually connected to her and so I feel it was unfair to dispute over it.
The track is very catchy and definately had to be included. It came off the groups third album, "Aquemini" and it samples Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly". It is funky and I would expect that most who enjoy OutKast's music would love this one.
4. "Skew It on the Bar-B"
Although being rather short in comparison to other tracks on the album (as it lasts just over three minutes) I truely appreiacted that OutKast went out of their way to appeal to those who do get left behind with deep concepts. Here everything is sped up with a high-tempo beat, givng them the chance to show off what they have to offer on a head-knocking tune. The inclusion of Wu-Tang's Raekwon also improved on what you have here as his stlye seems to suit what OutKast perform.
This is definately alternate Hip Hop as it sounds nothing like anbody else prior to release of this album in 1998. The tune is quite odd as Dre's voice is modified so tht it sounds as if it is like a sci-fi film character. The track is very eery but it seems as though everytime Big Boi steps up to the mic(rophone), he ignores it and just Gs the track up. I can't say that I enjoyed the track too much because of the way that the sound of the hook was, I didn't really like the fact that the they went to make the theme overly-prominant, therefore it sounded too much like a horror movie.
This is one which I really wnated to like, but faled to find enough to rate that highly. Here you have production which has them fitting o their Hip Hop foundations, however, their decision to alter it slightly to make it more mystical and unconventional put me off. It was a shame as you have Big Boi for once out-shining Dre in the lyircs department with some clever word-play.
As André i absnet from this partiucaklr track, you have Big boi tkaing advantage over the situation and coming with something which I expect he had been dying to do. Here he recruits fellow Dungeon Family members Cool Breeze and Backbone to rap alongside him for a proper Dirty Soutrh trakc. however these early days of this form of Atlanta rap didin;'t really appeal to me as much as later ones, so I felt that I couldn't get into it as much as I would have liked to.
8. "West Savannah"
Following that Big Boi tune, this one is yet anotherchance for this half of OutKast to show off what he is capbale of. However for this one he is completely alone as he raps with some Oragnized Noise roduction about where he grew up and the journeys which he went on in order to become the man we currently see.
9. "Da Art of Storytellin' (Pt. 1)"
After being established in the game for some time with quite a destinctive sound, OutKast decide here to show off their unique strength in storytelling as they rap. Of course in order to have such a tune, you have to pay homage to the originator of this stlye; Slick Rick, and so he joins the pair on their adventure which begins "Once upon a time not long ago..."
10. "Da Art of Storytellin' (Part 2)"
Obviously this is the follwo-on from the track before, but here we no longer have Slick Rick's aid to assist them in the tune. It's simply Big Boi and 3000 getting a verse each as they collectively tell a story to the listener. It has gone on to be a four-part series of 'storytellings', so if you which to trace back to where it al began then you may appreciate it, however I wasn't really into it. .
I was just lost by this point as OutKast get far too experimental in their work and I just couldn't understand what they were trying to express in tracks such as this one. You have OutKast along with a couple of guests here one of which is a Dungeon Family member, however I am not familar with Masada, a female who raps the first verse and sings in the chorus.
This starts with a dramatic drum-roll before slowing right down to be relaxed and laid-back tune. This souds like an Atlanta variation of the Hip Hop syle prominant in Houston, Texas, which is Screwed and Chopped. It is less chopped and more screwed as the words are stretched out and over-exaggerated in the chorus.
As we get into it, it appears to be an R&B track as we hear Sleepy Brown provide us with some perfect vocals as he always does. His style is smooth and works well with the rap approach of Big Boi and unorthadox ways of Andre.
13. "Y'All Scared"
Judging by the performer on this track, I would have expected to enjoy listening to the material on it as it features many member of the Goodie Mob (a Dirty South Hip Hop crew) along with the two members of OutKast, however I was dissapointed at this display as they performed on a boring piece of production, which didn't really offer enough to take me into the emotions which they attempted to express.
14. "Nathaniel" (Lude)
This one is build upon having all the performer, who come as André, Big Boi, Cee-Lo Green, Erykah Badu, and Big Rube singing (instead of rapping) in short lines which all come together well as a long piece of well-written conscious words of advise to the listener. Although I liked the concpet and enjoyed listneing to the input of so many, including Badu, I just wasn't feeling the package as a whole.
This serves as the outro to the album, and I do see it as a fitting close to the album. I feel this way as it does sum up the content of the LP pretty well as the production has influence from various sources which wouldn't necessarily be associaed with a Hip hop recording and has them rap just as how they have throughout it.
To be honest, although I could pick out little individual things out of most tracks which I enjoyed in this album, as a complete work, I didn't really like it that much. There was no big track on here whoihc stood out from the rest and really raised the standard for me, and the use of depressing lyrics pretty much all the way through weren't really apprecaied at all by me.
I understand that to an OutKast fan, you will need to see the progression which they have made, but when you comapre it to their beginnings with "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik", their Gangsta side has completely gone by this point. Having heard each release from them, I'd say that this is my worst, and this will be due to the fact that my taste in Hip Hop is a lot more traditional that what OutKast come with here.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Hold On Be Strong
2 Return Of The G
3 Rosa Parks
4 Skew It On The Bar B - Outkast & Raekwon
6 Synthesizer - Outkast & George Clinton
8 West Savannah
9 Da Art Of Storytellin'
10 Da Art Of Storytellin'
13 Y'all Scared - Outkast & T-Mo/Big Gipp/Khujo
15 Liberation - Outkast & Cee-Lo