The OutKasteers, Big Boi and Andre 3000, are still kicking together on their newest release, Idlewild, one of the most anticipated hip-hop joints of the year. Hip-hop has been on the idleside lately; therefore, we need the “two dope boys in a Cadillac” to bring back her spirit. Musically, OutKast has never stood still. The Southern duo has given hip-hop a fresh vibe by funking her up with their previous releases, and they have done it again on Idlewild with jazz and blues flavors.
With The Love Below, Dre had revealed that he is ready to move beyond rap, even though he could still flow rhymes better than croon ballads. That still holds true on Idlewild, particularly his off-key singing on the guitar-strumming blues over hard beat of “Idlewild Blue (Don’t Chu Worry ‘Bout Me),” and the slick jive of “PJ & Rooster.” His singing is passable, but I would rather hear him rhymes with Big Boi. He surprises me, however, with his chops on “When I Look In Your Eyes.” He’s not Louis Armstrong or a true jazz singer, but he could maneuver his limited vocal range around the swing orchestration.
Even though Dre is the creative juice behind the album, Big still does what he does best. He spits some of the wicked verses throughout the album, noticeably on “Peaches,” in which his lyrical storytelling is as sharp as always. Although Big is not ready to joint Dre’s singing, he has his own jazz swag. In “Call The Law,” he drives the hard-swing beat (seasoned with tasty keyboard licks) with his smooth style and speedy delivery while Janelle Monáe holds down the vocal lines with her strong, clear tone. I wish Big had dropped another verse though.
Unfortunately, Idlewild as a whole is not coherent. The album has way too many interludes between the tracks, too much singing hooks, but not enough strong productions to support the def verses. The saddest part, however, is that Big and Dre don’t sound as a unit anymore.