Entertainment
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
(Arista Records)

Outkast

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Many groups have put out two-disc sets in their careers, but it still feels like Outkast is breaking new ground here. Speakerboxx/The Love Below isn't so much a double CD as it is a pairing of solo albums, released together under the Outkast name. Each disc represents the vision of its creator, and while there is some slight overlap, they really are two separate entities.

Big Boi's effort is the more conventional of the two, but that ain't saying much. It still maintains an adventurous spirit throughout, with Mr. Patton spitting lightning quick rhymes over infectiously energetic tracks ranging from old-school hip hop to minor-key mariachi. If more mainstream rap was as creative as tracks like "Bowtie," maybe I'd have some faith in the genre.

Granted, the back end of the disc is pretty hit-or-miss, but Big Boi's misses are still better than 80 per cent of the "hits" out there.

The real revelation is Andre 3000's contribution, The Love Below. From the jazzy lounge singer intro to the drum-and-bass revision of "My Favorite Things," there simply isn't a dull moment. Elements of pop, jazz, Prince-style funk, Motown soul, rock and God-only-knows-what-else are mixed together to create what can only be described as a unique aural experience.

The sheer variety is grounded by Andre's persona, somewhere between hopeless romantic and just plain horny, which makes lyrics like "I don't want to move too fast, but/I can't resist your sexy ass/Just spread, spread for me" sound, if not wholesome, then at least heartfelt.

It's not exactly a rap disc, but it's one of the most invigorating pop albums to come along in far too long.

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