The two very distinct personalities in OutKast where what made them great. For me, Andre 3000 and Big Boi's split is one of the most disappointing occurrences in music this decade. They just don't sound right alone, you know? It's why I hate Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. In each of those records there is something indelible missing and every single time, it's the other guy.
Having said that, Andre and Big Boi were never better than in the year 2000 when they released the decade's best hip hop record - Stankonia. There was not a weirder record released this decade that would be as big a hit as Stankonia. It almost became a hit in spite of itself. It's fucking avant garde. I mean when was the last time a song as a chaotic (and chaotically brilliant) as "B.O.B" charted? It's a crazy ass freak show of a song that starts at a breakneck pace and never lets up. You can listen to "B.O.B." a thousand times and still hear something new.
Alas, Stankonia isn't only "B.O.B" and thank goodness because there are about a million other wonderful things about this record. That OutKast never had to sacrifice one ounce of weirdness or shed any of their quirks to become superstars is a marvel and Stankonia is Kast at their idiosyncratic best. Stankonia was released at the beginning of the decade and seemed to be the sound of the future. The sound of this new millennium. No stone unturned and no idea suppressed for popular success. It's all the opening "Intro" - one of the few times an intro on a hip hop record actually sets the tone for what's about to happen - "Live from the center of the earth...Welcome to Stankonia, the place from which all funky things come...Would you like to come?" Yes, Big Boi, yes I would. And what follows is insanity. Pure and simple. Chaos.
Take "Ms. Jackson" probably the most popular song on Stankonia and coincidentally still a much better single than the hokeier than hokey "Hey Ya". "Ms. Jackson" follows no clear path. It takes you down a number of roads. First, there's the horror movie-like sample, then there are the video game bleeps, that deep bass, the staccato scratching, the weirdly timed piano, and of course, the perfect melding of the talents of Big Boi and Dre. And it's still catchy. And it's like the fifth best song on the record (behind "B.O.B", "So Fresh and So Clean", "Red Velvet" and "Gasoline Dreams")
The fact that Stankonia works, what with their being so many conflicting ideas to be found all over the damn place, is a testament to the genius (yep, I'm saying it here and I mean it - genius) of Dre and Big Boi. It seems as though these two butted heads during the making of Stankonia - too many ideas, I guess. It's a true shame. Here's to hoping they can figure it out again, because it would be really nice to get another OutKast record as brilliant as Stankonia in this next decade.