OutKast – Aquemini ALBUM REVIEW

Aquemini is Atlanta rap duo OutKast’s third album, following 1994’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and 1996’s ATLiens. Each subsequent album proved to be better than the previous, and 1998’s Aquemini is no exception. The album features the most lush, grandiose production ever heard in hip-hop at the time, and this golden standard of production would not be topped until Kanye West’s Late Registration a full seven years later.

The theme of Aquemini is explained at the end of the second track, “Return of the ‘G'”. Two men are talking about OutKast; one is trying to sell the other a new ‘Kast CD for $16.99. The potential buyer comments that “first they was pimps, then they was some aliens or some genies or some shit”. On Aquemini, Big Boi and André 3000 present themselves as pimp aliens. Isn’t that something?

On Aquemini, OutKast pushed their experimental boundaries to their limits. Aquemini features not one, but two songs over the 7-minute mark, virtually unheard of in rap music at the time. However, the experimental nature of the album was not compromised at OutKast notched their biggest hit yet with “Rosa Parks”, proving that OutKast could make dense, thoughtful albums while still taking over the charts.

Big Boi is a great rapper in his own right, and he would eventually catch up to André 3000’s lyricism by Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. But it’s André who steals the show here. Some great examples of his poetry are quoted below.

From “Return of the ‘G'”: “It’s the return of the gangsta thanks ta’ / Them niggas that’s on that blow / That run up in yo’ crib which contains / Your lady and an 8 month old child to raise plus you true blue ’bout this music but / They do not want to hear it because they’d rather be bouncin’ and shootin’ and killin’ and bouncin’ and shit, get down“.

From “Aquemini”: “My mind warps and bends floats the wind count to ten/ Meet the twin André Ben, welcome to the lion’s den / Original skin many men comprehend / I extend myself so you go out and tell a friend / Sin all depends on what you believing in / Faith is what you make it that’s the hardest shit since MC Ren / Alien can blend right on in wit’ yo’ kin / Look again ’cause I swear I spot one every now and then / It’s happenin’ again wish I could tell you when / André this is André y’all just gon’ have to make amends“.

From “Synthesizer”: “Instant, quick grits, new, improved / Hurry hurry, rush rush, world on the move / Marijuana illegal but cigarettes cool / I might look! Kinda funny but I ain’t no fool / Now if you wanna synthesize I emp-athize / Now if you wanna synthesize I emp-athize / But if you synthesize I will understand / Your synthesizer man“.

From “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Part 1)”: “Talking bout what we gonna be when we grow up / I said what you wanna be, she said, ‘Alive’ / It made me think for a minute, then looked in her eyes / I coulda died, time went on, I got grown / Rhyme got strong, mind got blown, I came back home / To find lil’ Sasha was gone / Her mamma said she with a nigga that be treating her wrong / I kept on singing my song and hoping at a show / That I would one day see her standing in the front row / But two weeks later she got found in the back of a school / With a needle in her arm, baby two months due, Sasha Thumper“.

From “Chonkyfire”: “You chocked up, you was the nigga that supposed to be locked up / Makin’ them thick Hip Hop is dead, exhume the body if you ain’t scared / And if I see you in the streets I’d dap you down like you was Greg“.

OutKast addresses topics such as hip-hop stereotypes, racism, technology, cocaine wars, heroin abuse, love, lust, families, black consciousness, and the South’s role in the ongoing East-West hip-hop rivalry.

Scott’s Spectacular Song Selections include: “Return of the ‘G'”, “Rosa Parks”, “Aquemini”, “Synthesizer”, “Slump”, “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Part 1)”, “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”, “Liberation”, and “Chonkyfire”. However, this entire album is worth checking out and demands repeated plays all the way through.

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