By Kyra Brue
Aquemini was a great album. I liked it because of its overall sound. I don’t really know how to explain this “sound”, but it is definitely a bit different from their first two albums. They stepped away from the distinctly funk elements, which was heavily present on their first albums, and sort of settled into a newer sound. In Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and ATLiens, funk and R&B were the main musical elements that they borrowed and included in their music. In this album, funk and R&B still have a presence, but there are also many jazzy elements present throughout, as well. In most of the songs, there are collaborations with other artists, other than Organized Noize and Goodie Mob, along with sounds from other cultures, like Spanish, featured in “Mamacita.”
This album was made for the people who still believed in Outkast. Throughout the album, there are subtle acknowledgements of the possibility that the album wouldn’t have been created. This album also seems to shove their accomplishments in the faces of the people who doubted them. In their last song, “Chonkyfire”, their Source awards speech is played, further shoving their accomplishments in the faces of their critics. This inclusion of their speech shows that they don’t care if some people don’t like them. They are going to take the dislike and keep on making music because they want to.
Something that was taken from their first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, and is present in this one, is the talking sections. In this album however, the talking parts are less like skits and more like casual conversations that give messages to the listeners. A lot of these sections are talking more about their music and the things they did to make this album, acting almost as a window into their real lives. They still talk a little bit about weed, of course, but they also talk about their new lives, which involve mundane but real things like paying bills, working hard, and raising their kids.
This album shows the growth that Outkast has been through since their creation in 1994. A lot has happened in 4 years, for this group. Their lyrics alone show that they’ve gone from singing about pimpin’ and smoking weed every day to talking about their kids and real life. In “Slump”, there are baby sounds in the background and for several moments after the song. The inclusion of this sound seems to inform the listener that they have grown, so much so, that they have kids now. This element and proof of growth is a constant throughout this album.
They may have grown, but along with their family and money problems (or lack thereof) there are still original themes in their music. Like I previously stated, they don’t focus their music solely on pimpin’ and smoking, but they don’t get rid of these elements completely. They are still present, along with talking about sex and how they treat women, especially in “Mamacita.” In the lines, “grab her by her neck, throw her on the wall / Say, ‘Bitch don’t ever disrespect me, never not at all,” they depict the treatment of and disrespect towards women as being something that’s ok. Another theme, other than the family and children ones, that they talk about is night life, like in parts of “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” In this song he talks about meeting women in clubs and enjoying his life, but then go into talking about how grateful he is to meet his “SpottieOttieDopaliscious Angel,” because he wouldn’t have a kid if it weren’t for that night. Even though their original themes have shifted a bit, they still have some of their older elements, including centering their music around the south.
There are strong southern aspects present throughout. From “Rosa Parks” to “Skew It on the Bar-B,” along with other songs on the album, they display some of the elements that make up the south. In “Rosa Parks”, they take her experience of being forced to the back of the bus, and they turn it around. The chorus makes sitting in the back of the bus a more positive experience. They make it seem like the back of the bus is where all of the excitement is now, instead of the original negative connotations that came with having to sit in the back of the bus, if you were black. The title, “Skew It on the Bar-B,” made me think of barbeques, which are common southern traditions.
Overall, I liked this album. It wasn’t my favorite, but I liked the growth that is shown throughout the album and the new, more hip-hop/jazz sound that it had. I also like their incorporations of new sounds because they further added to that new sound.