As I Come Back: Stankonia

Just felt like posting Outkast’s “Humble Mumble” featuring Erykah Badu today.  Been in a Stankonia mood, looking for inspiration I guess.

Reading over the lyrics in the insert, it’s amazing how profound Andre and Big were on that album, which is now almost 9 years old (yikes!).  Such a different world we were in at the beginning of the Bush Administration and the excess dough left behind by Bill Clinton.  The rhymes reflected a time of cats ruthlessly flossing, upholding a fake thug stature, and existing instead of living.  Johnny Blaze, ain’t a damn thing changed.

I make no bones about Andre 3000 being in my top 3 MC’s of all time next to Ghostface and Aesop Rock.  The music on Stankonia was the genesis of Andre 3000 as we know him now–rambunctious, playful, wise, colorful, and daring.  Young “Dre” on Southernplayistic morphed into lost artist/experimental producer “Andre” on ATLiens and Aquemini.  But “Andre 3000” was built on the 808s from Middle Earth found throughout Stankonia, yet the messages and introspective rhymes from the previous three albums were still right there to hear, it’s just the medium was splashed in technicolor guitars from a Southern basement crowded by gospel choirs and Kraftwerk records.

Here’s some choice lines from “Gangsta Shit” from Andre3K that I just picked up on today.  It doesn’t get much better than this:

“Outkast with a K, yeah them niggas are hard
Harder than a nigga trying to impress God
We’ll pull your whole deck, fuck pulling your card
And still take my guitar and take a walk in the park
And play the sweetest melody the street has ever heard
Now bitches sucking on my nouns and I’m eating their verbs…
If it’s for the wealth, I’ll stop–put it like this
It’s like me selling some dope because my girlfriend wants to shop, wrong reason

Even reading the lyrics to “B.O.B.”, a song you can still hear at football games, was incredible.  The words on paper are hard to separate from the lively, energetic delivery 3000 kicks on the song, but stripped of the thumping chaotic drums, the man is dropping jewels:

“Better be a household name
Weatherman telling us it’s gon rain
So now we sitting in droptop soaking wet
In a silk suit trying not to sweat
Hittin somersaults without the net
But this’ll be the year that we won’t forget
1-9-9-9 Ano Domini anything goes
Be what you wanna be long as you know
Consequences are given for living
The fence is too high to jump in jail
Too low to dig I might just touch hell, HOT!
Get a life now they on sale
Then I might case you a spell
Look at what came in the mail
A scale and some Arm and Hammer
Soul gold grill and a baby mamma
Black Cadillac and a stack of Pampers
Stack of questions with no answers”

It’s amazing how commercially successful this album was off the strength of “Ms. Jackson” and “So Fresh, So Clean” when everything else was challenging and bizarre, save for a few Southern stapless here and there like “Snappin’  & Trappin'” and “We Luve Deeze Hoes” (which I hated as teenager but enjoy as an adult).  I also love that fact that they threw “Spaghetti Junction” on this album as it was clearly recorded between ATLiens and Aquemini.  For an album full of new territory, “Spaghetti Junction” harkened back to their past releases without sounding out of place. 

Also, there’s no real scene-stealing guest apperances.  All of the outside collaborators fill their spots quaintly and keep it moving.  The Dungeon Family, Killer Mike, B-Real of Cypress Hill, and Erykah Badu never pull the shine away from Big Boi and Andre, something very rare on a commercial rap record. 

Sure, there’s too many skits, ballooning the tracklisting to twenty-four cuts.  And Gangsta Boo’s apperance on “I’ll Call Before I Come” reminds me of hitting the mute button on Rap City everytime her videos would pop up; she still has one of the most unpleasant and abrasive voices in hip hop history.  But songs like “Slum Beautiful” and “Red Velvet” more than make up for the occassional misstep by Hypnotize Minds artists.

Anyway, the weather in Philly is awful but throw on an Outkast album today or tonight or tomorrow–it’ll make the bristling wind and frigid air creeping threw the windows more tolerable.  And stank!

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4 thoughts on “As I Come Back: Stankonia

  1. “And Gangsta Boo’s apperance on “I’ll Call Before I Come” reminds me of hitting the mute button on Rap City everytime her videos would pop up; she still has one of the most unpleasant and abrasive voices in hip hop history.”

    See, that’s how I feel about Aesop Rock. I mean, seriously? it’s not like she’s Amil.

  2. This was nice to see when I got off of work today. I’m a bit of an old head and earlier I was talking to an 18 year old busboy about the overall greatness of Outkast because he told me that he was unfamiliar with Southernplayalistic and ATLiens (which is my favorite). Can’t agree with you on Gangsta Boo though. I think she’s a riot.

  3. nice post man, my personal favorite ‘Kast album. Andre’s a dope rapper and everything but this is the only album of theirs where i feel like he was on some other shit. flow’s ridiculous.

    • Franklin: Gangsta Boo was really cute and I remembered watching her in interviews and thinking she was really slick but sweet at the same time. I just could never stomach her voice for more than 8 bars. Thanks for reading, bro!

      Trey: ATLiens is my personal fav. Outkast album, but Stankonia is tied with Aquemini for 2nd. I really loved with Andre did on the track “???” as well as the lyrics I quoted. Big Boi handles his business and might go down as the most underappreciated great Souther MC for obvious reasons. Thanks for checking in.

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