This album is wavy. This is one of the albums I’d creep down crowded summer streets in Philly with the top down to. Well, if I had a drop top. Or a car. Look bruh, I’m gonna bump this from my bluetooth speaker as I ride my bike through the city of brotherly love once spring starts acting like spring. What city, beside somewhere more Southern, is more appropriate for this duo?
The funkiness of “Synthesizer” with George Clinton is on some other shit altogether. 3k’s intense delivery coupled with Clinton’s lazy adlibs about “Cybersexy Wendy” walking in the nude makes for one of the dopest tracks in Kast’s oeuvre. I say all this, unabashedly, as an Andre 3000 fanboy. BigBoi is that dude, but Dre, in both flow and presentation, was a fucking weirdo. He’d appear on album covers dressed like what-the-fuck and would weave weirdly intricate webs you couldn’t help but get caught in. Back in ‘98, before we all became internet savvy, there weren’t easily accessible communities that skillfully tied hood gender-role bending, black-boy joy with silky-smooth pimp machismo like OutKast did. No runner up groups even come to mind twenty years later. Seeing Stacks made being odd a little more bearable.
A few of the verses on this album still feel contemporary. Listen to Y’All Scared and tell me the breakdown of public attention shifting from black communities when crack moved doesn’t mirror the current opioid crisis and the discourse shift from “waging a war” to “treating a health epidemic” now that a different demographic is being hit, namely poor whites.
Not every track is as up-to-date though. Mamacita is kinda cringeworthy, paints queer desire as disrespectful, and could be read as justifying assault. Granted, the story in the song describes a single encounter and isn’t a universal take on women seducing women, but it’s still worth mentioning. Reactionary sexual politics seems to be a theme in several of OutKast’s older songs—take for example, Return of the “G”, where they find need to address their heterosexuality, on wax, with threats of violence, or Jazzy Belle (off ATLiens ) where they say rape is probably what makes promiscuous women the way they are.
Time changes things. Back in the 90s, what would we have done had we known 3k would record not just one song with an openly gay musician, but two? (Well, at least two. This isn’t an exhaustive list of queer folks he’s recorded with.) Sexual-political content in music is still a cause for concern.
But yeah, the album’s dope.