Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast

Andre 3000's The Love Below is an almost rap-less set piece about modern romance; Big Boi's Speakerboxxx is a party album designed to get everyone dancing. What both have in common is a willingness to reach into any musical cookie jar to come up with something sweet. Andre bravely dropped rapping in favor of singing, and while his voice isn't smooth, his authentic tenderness (when matched up against Norah Jones on "Take Off Your Cool") and exuberance (on the classic "Hey Ya!") proves his point: Vulnerability is what love is all about. Big Boi, usually stereotyped as OutKast's less-adventurous half, merged funk, drum-and-bass, pop, rap, jazz and a chorus whispering 'hot sauce' into the year's best ear candy. No album(s) this year were nearly as interesting or as joyous.

Best Tracks: "Hey Ya!," "Roses," "Unhappy," "Ghetto Musick"