1998, Music

Aquemini (1998) by OutKast

When I was in first year university Stankonia was everywhere. I would walk down the hall and hear it. It was blaring so loud in my neighbour’s room that first semester I couldn’t escape it. Worse, it wasn’t really Stankonia, it was just the hits: “So Fresh, So Clean,” “Ms. Jackson” and “B.O.B.” just playing on repeat. So, for a while, I hated OutKast. Then “Hey Ya!” came out a few years later and I couldn’t escape that either. (I have one memory of my friend’s roommate trying to learn “Hey Ya!” on guitar for seeming hours while we tried to play an NHL video game in the room beneath him.) So basically I found OutKast annoying even though, deep down, I recognized the inherent musicality of their music, and I understand it had broader roots than much Hip Hop I was familiar with.

Fortunately it’s been a long, long time since I was inundated with OutKast’s hits. Moreover, I haven’t heard a single song from this record, which probably helps.

This record is just brimming with ideas. It’s spilling over. Compared to a lot of Hip Hop I’ve heard, there’s so much going on. The talent is just…I can’t find the right word but it’s so clear to me these guys aren’t just MCs but are incredibly musically gifted. The songs are basically uniformly catchy and feel grounded in various musical traditions. This feels like art to me as well as pop music.

I appreciate the lyrics, which are often rather intelligent even if they are not always consistent. (I suspect I like one of them better than the other.)
But this thing is soooo long…Why are all 1990s Hip Hop albums so damn long??? And my favourite track – funnily enough, the longest here – is perhaps the least indicative of their sound: “Liberation.” The fact that I like this the best tells you everything you need to know about my music tastes. But the fact that I have to get through an hour to get there doesn’t not endear the record to me.

This is probably better than the rating I am giving it but the length is too much for me today. You do not need to fill up the entirety of a CD just because it exists.

7/10 feels a little low

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