It’s been a whole 20 years, but still, Outkast’s Stankonia remains one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
Of course, we all know the smash hits ‘Hey Ya’’ and Ms.Jackson’’, often found playing in the late hours of Shite Night. But this album is so much more than that. It’s creative and innovative, a symbol of what makes OutKast so talented in the first place.
After coming home from touring with their third album, Aquemini, the duo discovered the studio they recorded all their tracks in would be closed. They purchased the studio and began to work on their next album – both named Stankonia.
This gave them creative freedom to fully experiment with sounds, themes, language, even rapping styles and produce an album as no one has ever done before.
Overall, the album is described as a ‘’trippy, techno-psychedelic funk’’. “Humble Mumble” is a salsa-influenced track that evolves into a club groove. The smooth melodies of”I’ll Call Before I Come” have also been likened to Prince. “Gasoline Dreams” has been classified as a gritty rock scorcher, comparable to the work of Public Enemy.
David Bry of Vibe detected a ”polished 80s pimp strut” in So Fresh, So Clean" and “appreciative, fat-ass bounce” in We Luv Deez Hoes’’.
The album ends with three weird, funky tracks, ‘’Toilet Tisha’’, ‘’Slum Beautiful” and Stankonia (Love)”.
OutKast’s previous albums were considered to be laid-back, mellow efforts but Stankonia contains more upbeat and high-energy tempos. This is partly to reflect the introduction of rave culture onto the music scene.
During the late 90s, rappers tended to embrace slow, laid-back beats in their songs. On several tracks on Stankonia, the group uses faster, more chaotic tempos to reflect rave culture and the introduction of new drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine into the hip hop scene.
Much of the album discusses the status of women in the South and contrasts with the derogatory attitudes towards women at the time. Songs like ‘I’ll Call B4 I Cum’’ and ‘’Ms Jackson’’ is very raw and honest towards women.
There is no doubt that without this album, hip hop would not be what it is today. Many people say that without Stankonia, artists in today’s society wouldn’t have the courage to fully express themselves. It paved the way for hip-hop albums to come, for new themes to be explored, for people to express themselves in whatever way they wanted.
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