First time listen? Yes
Impressions: Eclectic, Southern-fried hip-hop that is at times wildly creative, yet still funky enough to please most hardcore hip hop heads. I got no idea why I missed the boat on them at the time. I’m positive I would have listened to this a lot in 1998–as I was starved for quality hip hop. There was a huge gap in the mid ’90s after gangsta rap took over where I lost interest. I was getting older and society was tellling me I was supposed to leave all hip hop things behind and purchase the “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” soundtrack and move on to the NPR-safe bluegrass/country revival thing that was in the air. (Shrugs.) Okay, while I did join an actual jug band at the time (I “played” washtub bass,) I passed on buying a ton of bluegrass albums. Meanwhile, back to Aquemini…Tons of P-Funk influence (George Clinton even guests on a track) but OutKast is more than mere revivalists. Andre 3000 and Big Boi cover lots of ground, with surprising guitars, orchestral arrangements and a wide-ranging view of music that would eventually help them leap into the stratosphere in the next few years. Setting this unconventional tone is “Rosa Parks” with its urgent ponging beat, acoustic guitar part, and harmonica solo. Funky, fleet, and rapping as fast as possible (without making mere speed their calling card,) not to mention lots of fun. Sometimes, the “skits” (a pet peeve of mine on hip hop records) slow things down a bit, but overall, nothing fatal. Digging the throwback autobiographical track “West Savannah,” dreamy “Da Art Of Storytellin’ (Part 1),” and the dubby marching band horns of “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” All very satisfying.
Starred Songs: Rosa Parks, SpottieOttieDopaliscious