OutKast’s multi-platinum and Grammy award winning Speakerboxxx/The Love Below had Big Boi (Antwan Patton) and André 3000 (André Benjamin) separated on two discs. Boi’s Speakerboxxx rocked with hard hip-hop grooves that expanded on OutKast’s back catalogue. In contrast, André’s The Love Below was a strange brew of jazz-funk pop hits that inspired multiple listens and left its counterpart virtually ignored.
With worldwide musical success the only thing left for OutKast to conquer was Hollywood. The duo’s first movie, Idlewild, uses outrageous dance sequences and vibrant musical numbers to tell the story of a 1930’s club and the lives of its flashy lead performer (Rooster, played by Big Boi), and the club’s shy piano player (Percival, played by André 3000).
Idlewild the soundtrack features André’s mutated jazz-blues experiments and Boi’s increasingly catchy and enthralling hip-hop tracks on one disc, but it is met with mixed results this time. Because of The Love Below, I had a preconceived notion that André’s tracks would be the album’s selling point—and while songs like “Idlewild Blue,” “Make No Sense” and “Greatest Show on Earth” are all genre-jumping escapades, André is simply just a mediocre singer (as he no longer raps) and is no match for what Boi brings to the table.
Big Boi is at the top of his game here, and with solo tracks like “Peaches,” “Buggface” and “Morris Brown,” he follows the musical theme of the soundtrack while staying firmly rooted within hip-hop boundaries. First single “Mighty O” features the duo together for the first time in years. The single makes it quite clear that André is just bored stiff with rapping. Thankfully, Boi comes in half way through the track with his impeccable flow and rhymes to save the day.
Idlewild is not OutKast’s best work by a long shot and at over 80 minutes—there are multiple unnecessary interludes—it’s difficult to listen to in one sitting. But even mediocre OutKast is better then most commercial hip-hop records and it’s always interesting to see where the eccentric duo will take us next. (LaFace/Sony BMG) Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars