Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Idlewild Album Review

I purchased the new OutKast Idlewild CD late last week and to be honest with you it initially struck me as suspect. When I began writing this, I wrote under the auspices of what I thought was a firm initial critique of the album as unworthy of purchase. Consequently, and for the sole benefit of our readers, at the end of every track’s critique I opted to offer my prescription on whether you should purchase the track separately on iTunes (or some other digital jukebox). In the end, I found myself somewhat surprised at the number of tracks I thought were worthy of purchasing. Unfortunately for OutKast, I’m not suggesting you buy the album on the grounds that it’s an all around good album. I’m suggesting you purchase the album because the number of good tracks makes it economically unwise to try to purchase one track at a time rather than purchasing the entire album. So without further ado I present my review of OutKast’s Idlewild CD.

The album begins with promise. An ambient sound filled my headphones and I actually smiled when I first heard this. It was at once futuristic but then again very familiar. I keep my headphones on blast and I got the distinct feeling I was at a house party. Those few seconds before the beat drops where you kind of look around and prepare yourself to go at it again on the dance floor. This sound is then replaced with a more distinct and clear beat. Then a voice. Larry Olivier, some sort of fictional bougie character who opines on rappers who “disrespect the craft” of acting. Then some other voices justify the crossover that has become the norm for most musicians. But all that really isn’t important. My issue is that this album begins in a way that previous albums have not. Perhaps I may be mistaken, but I always felt there was a pattern that all OutKast albums intros followed. Hold On Be Strong (Aquemini), Intro (Speakerboxx), The Love Below Intro (The Love Below), You May Die (ATLiens). A woman’s voice (or Andre’s voice in the case of Love Below) would be accompanied by soft music in the background.
My prescription: Not worth your 99 cents

Mighty “O”:
This track has a very powerful instrumental that is accompanied by some serious lyrical floetry by Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Andre’s verse on this track is his usual combination of introspection and wit. Big Boi is simply masterful in his command of rhyme and manages to throw in some obscure words (ex. Rumplestilskin) and somehow make them work, certainly a signature of his rhyme style.
My prescription: Cop that track

This is real smooth track. Big Boi does this one without Andre. Definitely one of those songs I can see myself rocking to on a long drive. If I take the Taconic to Williamstown by myself anytime soon, this would definitely be a song I’d want to have with me. Big Boi’s flow on this track makes it seem as though the instrumental was made uniquely for him.
My prescription: Cop that

Idlewild Blue (Don’tchu Worry ‘Bout Me):
Conversely this would not be a song I’d want to listen to on the Taconic. I’d definitely be pushing 80 (mph) while listening to this one. Andre 3000 does this one on his own. It has a fairly strong bridge where you hear the sounds of the harmonica and some other instrumentation. While it’s a good song with a great composition, it’s one of those tracks that you’ll probably get tired of after about 15 listens.
My prescription: Not worth a purchase.

A 48 second interlude that had me on the floor.
My prescription: This track is worth a listen, but a purchase just wouldn’t be in your best interest.

N2U (“into you”) is an interesting song. “I wanna get into you, I don’t want no girlfriend, just wanna get into you.” That’s the chorus. The production on this track is a little weak to me. Besides it’s interest component, the song has no legs and is not at all creative or thought provoking. In Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and on a track called True Dat (Interlude) Big Rube said the following:
"Are you an OutKast?
If you understand and feel the basic principles and
fundamental truths contained within this muzik, you probably are
If you think it's all about pimpin hoes and slammin cadillac do's
You probably a cracker, or a n!##@ that think he a cracker
Or maybe just don't understand"
Given this quote, N2U makes me feel as though OutKast has forgotten what it is to be an OutKast.
My prescription: Spend your 99 cents on True Dat from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

Morris Brown:
Where “Idlewidle Blue (Don’tchu Worry ‘Bout Me)” lacks in longevity, this song makes up for it. The production on the track is exceptional. This coupled with a genius mélange of the loquacious approach of Big Boi’s rhymes juxtaposed with the simplicity of Scar and Sleepy Brown’s chorus make for a wonderful track.
My prescription: Do yourself a favor and cop that

Fear of clocks. I get the impression that Andre is alluding to the fear of time and death. It’s an interesting idea, but the concept isn’t developed. To make matters worse, the production doesn’t do much to accent or strengthen the subject matter. In this regard it is weak. Furthermore, the track is only 2 minutes and 12 seconds. Take away about 45 seconds for add libbing and Andre has only about a minute and some change; he sings half of the time and rhymes the other half. Interestingly enough, much like the song is divided I’m likewise torn as to whether I should give it the okay or not.
My prescription: Borrow a book on Chronometrophobia from you local library. You’ll get more satisfaction reading about it than listening to Andre rhyme about it.

The Train:
This is yet another Big Boi, Sleepy Brown and Scar collaboration that is worth every cent. A track to cruise to a la Clipse i.e., ‘top down, chrome spinning.’
My prescription: Cop it like Five “O”

Life is Like a Musical:
Amazing production. This is a great song. The chorus, while simple is quite profound. Andre 3000 simply repeats, “Don’t Let Um Change Us.” No rhyming on this one, but his singing is reminiscent of the command of pitch he exhibited in The Love Below.
My prescription: Purchase, select the replay single button on your radio device, and bump it so your neighbors can enjoy it as well.

No Bootleg DVDs:
Interlude. Not as funny as the previous one. Undeserving of a prescription.

Hollywood Divorce:
Lil’ Wayne is on this track. Need I say more? Something tells me that I do so I’ll begin with the concept. The song is about the thievery of Hollywood. I think it’s an amazing concept for them to tackle. Snoop, Dre, Big Boi, and Weezy all fiercely bless this track.
My prescription: Purchase, listen with headphones preferably

Zora (Interlude):
To short to critique

Call the Law:
Janelle Monae has a beautiful voice. For those of you who are not familiar with her, she sang “Lettin’Go”. She really carries this track and does so with unequivocal elegance and ferocity. Big Boi again provides the floetic relief with perfection on this track once again. This is really an amazing track.
My prescription: Cop it and prepare to be “wowed”

Bamboo & Cross (Interlude):
Young kids fooling around. Pretty hilarious but not worthy of a critique

I don’t know what they were thinking with this chorus. Big Boi’s flow is serious on this track but the chorus really ruins it. It’s really foolish, but also catchy. With every listen I’m tempted change my prescription. But I approach this task with Bush like resilience.
My prescription: Almost, but doesn’t make the cut. Keep your money.

Makes No Sense At All:
It makes no sense at all to me that this song is on the album.
Prescription: This song should makes no cents at all. Spend your money on a toenail clipper.

In Your Dreams:
Killer Mike, Big Boi kill them softly and Janelle Monae and Sleepy Brown are accomplices in the first-degree murdering of this track (murder being a good thing, obviously).
My prescription: A certified two-step track. Purchase and practice your spin move in the privacy of your home.

PJ & Rooster:
This is the song you’ve all heard during the preview for the movie. A very good song, PJ & Rooster is yet another testament to the fact that good things happen when Big Boi and Andre 3000 are on the same track.
My prescription: is more of a warning. “Consumption of any beverage with alcoholic content while listening to this track may cause you to get down.”

Mutron Angel:
I actually like this song. I have no idea who sings it. But it’s well done.
My prescription: Cop, paying close attention to the lyrics

Greatest Show On Earth:
This track is supposed to feature Macy Gray, but she pretty much sings the entire song. Macy Gray was always a little to eccentric for me. This song has a powerful bridge, with a powerful sister with a voice as commanding as a horn.
My prescription: If you’re a fan of Macy Gray, go ahead and buy the track. If you’re like me, however, you’re money would be better spent on a track like Geto Heaven Part Two. If you don’t know about that Macy Gray and Common track, it would be in your best interest to ask somebody.

You’re Beautiful:
I really like this interlude. It’s pulled right from the movie. The background music is wonderful. But it’s an interlude and, therefore, exempt from extensive critique at the moment.

When I Look In Your Eyes:
Since we’re on the subject of looking, I regret to say that this song is “not a good look.” This is track 23 of 25 and it’s yet another one of those songs that Andre 3000 just doesn’t bring home. I’m convinced that it’s because of songs like this one, i.e. songs without Big Boi, that this CD has received such poor reviews. It is not so much that Andre 3000 isn’t good, but that he isn’t exceptional. That’s what fans were looking for on this album and I think they were a little disappointed that Idlewild didn’t live up to the hype.
My prescription: Look to spend your dollar elsewhere

Dyin’ To Live:
I kept listening to this song because I was desperately trying to give it a positive rating. Again, a good song, but it is far from exceptional. The track has no legs and it seems to have no significance outside of the movie. In other words, it seems like the song was made for the movie and as someone who has yet to watch it, it does nothing for me.
My prescription: Don’t purchase it.

A Bad Note:
8 minute riff on the electric guitar.
All in all it’s enjoyable, but I think someone was puffing the magic dragon while making this.
My prescription: Unless you’re on cough medicine or some other drowse inducing substance, this may not be for you.

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