Monday, April 30, 2007

southern playa-listic

Score: 7/10

Best Song: Player's Ball

Worst Song: Funky Ride

So the story of Outkast begins where stories tend the beginning. This particular debut comes along back in '94, before any movies, crossover successes, potential singing careers, name changes, Erykah Badu, period. This was back when, if you can believe it, Outkast was nothing but a couple of guys from Atlanta who could spit pretty damn well. Apparantly they also smoked a lot of fucking weed, because if nothing else, this album should be a dedication to the practice of gettin' high, since they rap about it in almost every song. And by "they" I don't just mean Big Boi and Dre, since they brought along a few friends as well...namely the entire Dungeon Family. Unlike the album that came out in 2001, there is no mistake who the star players are here, but that doesn't mean we don't see plenty of their buddies making guest appearences on multiple tracks. How do I feel about this? Well, I understand that this was the first album, the boys were probably really excited and wanted to get all their friends in on this shot at success, but it does hurt the album as a whole. For one thing, a lot of these songs are way too damn long, especially with the unimaginative subject matter that's being dealt with. Songs like "Call of Da Wild", "Git Up, Git Out", and "Funky Ride" are all too fucking long, even though I like the beat in "Call" and "Git Up, Git Out" actually has the best verse in the entire album, including anything Dre and Big Boi contribute, and that would be Cee-lo's impassioned first verse. Man, even back then Goodie Mob were damn talented, and the only members of the Family I would say really justify their appearence on this album, though nobody really sucks. Despite that best verse nod(the song winds up going on for almost 8 mintues, which it has no business doing), I'm gonna have to give the best track to an obvious cut, and that would of course be "Player's Ball", which is the first song to follow what I like to think of as the "Classic Outkast Single" formula: Big Boi or Dre lead the song off, the other does the second verse, they alternate a third verse (optional), add a catchy hook. They would prove in subsequent albums that this always made for a hot track, even if they were doing other things that were a bit more outside the box. Special credit goes to Sleepy Brown, who does the hook on "Player's Ball" as well as his extra singing on the otherwise useless "Player's Ball (Reprise)" which closes the album. In fact, for the most part, in spite of the stellar Goodie Mob contributions, Outkast is at their best here when they keep it (relatively) brief and simply with the two of them, such as with the also very good opener, "Myintrotoletuknow". If you want to see where inviting their friends to the studio was probably not the best idea, I'll take you right over to the aforementioned "Funky Ride". There are a number of things wrong with this song: firstly, it runs at about 6 and a half minutes, which is too fucking long for the kind of songwriting on display at this point, the guy singing on it sounds like a child molester and makes the proceedings really uncomfortable, and, most importantly, where the FUCK is Outkast? They aren't on this song at all. On an album that clearly states it is by a group calling itself Outkast. This is inexcusable. The rest of the album I haven't talked about consists of solid but overlong tunes like the title track, "Ain't No Thang" and others like it, the only thing worth noting about them other than the rapping on hand being consistently good is that the hootie-hoo call in the appropriately titled "Hootie Hoo" is pretty annoying. Still, a good start for a group that would fix a lot of their shortcomings very quickly and already have the competition beat by a significant margin, worth a listen, especially if you wanna hear Outkast with a few growing pains left to do.

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