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'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below' OutKast (2003)

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You could argue that Stankonia was the more solid front-to-back listen. But this double-disc set—essentially a solo album from each half of OutKast—is their bigger statement. No rap release had a more natural feel for blues and funk structures (see Big Boi’s “Church” and “Bowtie”), and no ambitious double album from any genre had a summer-pop hit as undeniable as Andre 3000’s “Hey Ya!” (complete with the dance-floor chant “shake it like a Polaroid picture”). The latter album’s loverman, Prince-like persona would have been objectionable had the Purple One written anything as hot as “Spread”—or anything as playful as “God”—this decade, but since he didn’t, 3000 gets away with biting his style. This wasn’t the dominant sound of hip-hop in the decade, though it was the format’s most complex bouquet to find a popular audience. Aw-right aw-right aw-right aw-right aw-right?

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