By Kyra Brue
Stankonia wasn’t a bad album, but it wasn’t my favorite. There were a few songs that I really enjoyed, like “Ms. Jackson,” “B.O.B,” and “?,” but overall it wasn’t their best album in my opinion. This album definitely had a more modern sound to it. They still stuck with their funky, R&B undertones, but there was also a much greater use of technical sounds, similar to ATLiens, in some parts. I also felt that this album is where they sort of began to stray from their original funk sounds. Some of their songs, like “B.O.B,” didn’t even really have funk elements to it. It sounded a lot more techno than their usual stuff. However, songs like, “So Fresh, So Clean,” which I recognize from somewhere (like a commercial or something), had those original funk sounds that made their previous works distinctly theirs.
Something about this album that really caught my attention, was the extra explicitness of their lyrics. Their previous albums weren’t child-friendly or anything, but they seemed a little less crass than this album was. To me, the songs in this album were either more explicit or just more upfront about sex and love than previous albums were. The erotic tones of the album start in the very first part, “Intro,” and they only go on from there. Song like “I’ll Call B4 I Cum,” “Red Velvet,” and (my personal favorite) “Toilet Tisha” were quite vulgar compared to their previous explicit songs.
Apart from sexual themes, the album also had some other themes as well. In “Gasoline Dreams” there is a lot of commentary about the downfall of the American Dream. The lyrics talk about the harsh reality that is life, and how even when you’re doing ok, there are still obstacles that can come and knock you down. This song puts more of a focus on the not so glamorous reality of the American Dream. In some other songs, there are additional references to the struggle that people go through, even when their doing alright.
The interludes in this album were shorter than in previous albums. They also sometimes didn’t really make sense with the songs preceding or following them. In some places, the interludes acted less like parts of a story, and more like random inclusions. The “break!” at the end of each one also made the interludes seem like random pauses in between songs, almost like commercials are for TV shows.
Throughout the album, there weren’t too many obvious southern things in the songs, apart from the naming of places, like spaghetti junction, College Park, etc. However, in “Snappin’ & Trappin’” there is the line, “My Cadillac got that boom, boom in it, listen to it drop.” This line references the car culture of the south. As mentioned in class, cars are very important to southern culture, along with the presence or lack of a subwoofer, which gives the car that “boom” sound. In some other songs there is also some insight into everyday life in the south, like in “Spaghetti Junction.” This song gives listeners visuals of life near the junction that every Atlantean has most likely driven on at least once in their life.
Overall, this album was definitely different from their previous stuff, in one way or another. It seemed like they were changing their sound to accommodate a broader scope of people. Stankonia had some of their original elements that make them Outkast, but a lot of the songs had different sounds than the ones they showcased in previous albums. I think that because it was different from their usual (in some ways), it wasn’t my favorite.