Aquemini

Outkast

LaFace Records, 1998

http://www.outkast.com

REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/23/2006

Let’s get one thing straight: Aquemini is Outkast’s best album. Sure, Stankonia is great; a high point in hip-hop even, but it doesn’t hold a candle to this crowning masterpiece. In the hip-hop genre it has only gotten better than this once, maybe twice.

Yes, the lyrics are incredible, and the beats are near-perfect. But it’s not only about that. It’s the way that they craft the songs. There are little details on this album that you don’t see on other hip-hop records. Take “Rosa Parks,” for example, one of the best tracks on the album. The two-minute cut to a hip-hop version of boogie music isn’t awkward or ambitious. It fits perfectly with the track, showcasing Outkast’s southern roots. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On the title track, after Andre and Big Boi’s first two verses, the song seems to come to a close and the beat drops, only to hit you a few seconds later in full force accompanied by a low-toned verse from Big Boi. It’s one of those moments in a song that you just keep rewinding and playing over and over because it’s so powerful.

Outkast still shines on the beats and lyrics. I could go on all day citing tight verses that Andre and Big Boi drop, but there is one simple opening line that really gets to me. On “Skew It On The Bar-B” Andre opens up with, “The common denominator, the nigga numerator / Never know who the hater, niggaz cater to your ego.” In just one line Andre showcases his awareness by referencing to the worth America declared many years ago to all black peoples over all peoples’ “common denominator (the 3/5 law),” and how in subsequent years blacks “catered” to the white race. Think about the power of those lyrics. What line could better draw someone into the song?

And let’s not forget Organized Noise. All hail Organized Noise. There is so much creativity here that makes this set of songs special. The attention to details on songs likes “Rosa Parks,” “Chonkyfire” and “Spottieottiedogaliscious” is unforgettable. You hear the basic beat and you think, yeah this is pretty good. And then on songs like “Spottieottiedogaliscious” the horns come in and it just blows you away. Production flourishes like that distinguish this from regular hip-hop discs.

One of the best hip-hop albums ever created, Aquemini may be one of the best albums of the 90s. This isn’t just hip-hop, this is songcraft. A must have.

Rating: A

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© 2006 Brian Birnbaum and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of LaFace Records, and is used for informational purposes only.