Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Outkast "Aquemini" (1998)

Southern Hip Hop duo Outkast are a pair of musicians I'm growing an immense amount of admiration and respect for. I've been impressed with their intelligent approach to Hip Hop, showing strength and maturity with cerebral introspections and social commentaries, combined with charactered production that distinctively sets them aside from other acts. On this record "Aquemini", their third, the duo seem completely in sync with one another. Whether its lyrically, instrumentally, or conceptually, the two deliver a riveting and eloquent experience for the listener on a record thats filled to the brim with fine instrumentals, enticing rapping and an array of cultural interludes that tie the songs together. Good raps and beats is always the formula, but here the two transcend the genre with expressions and themes that create an air of expectational quality reflected in the album covers blaxploitation rendition of the two.

Aquemini is a rich, fluid listen thats stimulating from start to finish. Despite this, its surprising diverse in production, with different themes accompanying the stylish, charactered beats Outkast have put their mark on. "Slump", "West Savannah" & "Spottieottiedopaliscious" feel like throw backs to "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik", a fair few numbers have the spacious and darker, paranoid instrumentation of "ATLiens" and with songs like "Rosa Parks", "Synthesizer" and "Chonkyfire" the duo break the mold with supreme instrumentals that make use of live instruments like the harmonica, giving them a vibrant edge over the traditional sampling technique. The array of guest musicians contribute purposeful sounds that expand their pallet with guitars, pianos and marching band horns, creating a rich and lasting experience when combined with the sharp and crisp drum machines.

Beyond the illuminating instrumentals the duo deliver solid raps and killer hooks on a thought felt record where every word feels relevant. The themes expand on ATLiens socially conscious commentaries with the heart felt "Da Art Of Storytellin", themes of technological paranoia on "Synthesizer" and the pairs duality on the title track. Most exciting is the delivery which isn't afraid to expand with sung hooks and gospel vocals, in general breaking the monotony with catchy ideas of which all seem to work without fail. It can be felt in the vast array of guest musicians who add a layer and depth to many songs with vocal hooks working in the background behind the raps and the audacity to enhance the flow with layered lines and powerful, yet subtle reverb effects, empowering their rapping voices. I have nothing but praise for this album. Never a dull moment or skipped track, I thoroughly enjoy it in its seventy four minute entirety and can't praise it enough. Although relatively new to me, I can't help but feel I'll call it a classic with time.

Favorite Songs: Rosa Parks, Synthesizer, Slump, Mamacita, Spottieottiedopaliscious, Liberation, Chonkyfire
Rating: 9/10