CD Review of Idlewild by Outkast

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Released: 2006
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Being hailed as one of the greatest musical acts of all-time is not something any artist should take lightly. And if you happen to be said artist, you have to find ways to constantly reinvent yourself. Big Boi and Andre 3000 of Outkast have done that and then some with Idlewild, the album that goes along with the motion picture of the same name that the duo have created. What’s more, these two gargantuan egos were able to not only work together on the record, but also to appear together as actors in the film.

After the release of the RIAA diamond certified #1, five-time Grammy-winning Speakerboxx/The Love Below in 2003, there was talk about whether or not we have seen the last Outkast project. And maybe that’s because the double CD was essentially two solo projects. But those talks have been temporarily dismissed. And as groundbreaking as the last album was, Idlewild has Andre and Big Boi taking more chances than ever before with a concept project that combines aspects of hip-hop, R&B, blues and old-school swing. What’s even more amazing about Idlewild, however, is that somehow it all ties together thematically and musically into a product that is larger than the sum of its parts.

“Mighty O” is the first single and the first collaboration by Andre and Big Boi on the same song in six years, and it is predictably as catchy as anything Outkast has ever released. The swing-infused “PJ & Rooster” and super creepy “A Bad Note” are the other titles on here billed as just “Outkast,” though the tracks “Call the Law” and “Hollywood Divorce” feature Outkast with Jonelle Monae and with Lil’ Wayne and Snoop Dogg, respectively. There are also tracks performed separately by each, but also featuring the likes of Macy Gray, Sleepy Brown and Khujo Goodie.

Big Boi delivers two of the collection’s best tracks in the soulful “N2U,” performed along with Goodie; and in “Morris Brown,” an infectious gem that features Sleepy Brown and Scar. And Andre 3000 has a couple gems of his own with “Life is Like a Musical,” a song that effectively blends swing with a healthy dose of ‘70s-era soul; “Greatest Show on Earth,” which features Gray on vocals; and the loungy piano ballad, “Dyin’ to Live.”

The obvious questions remain with Outkast, and those are, “Is this their last effort as a group?” and “How in the hell can they top this?” Well, those are questions that can be put on the back burner for now, because Idlewild is going to cement this dynamic duo as a force to be reckoned with for years and possibly for generations to come. So before everyone asks you if you’ve heard this record yet and before it starts winning all kinds of awards, do yourself a favor and go pick it up.

~Mike Farley