Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
|Speakerboxxx/The Love Below|
|Studio album by OutKast|
|Released||September 23, 2003|
|Recorded||September 2001 – September 2003|
|Genre||Hip hop, funk|
|Producer||André 3000, Big Boi, Carl Mo, Mr. DJ, Cutmaster Swiff, Dojo5|
|Singles from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below|
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is the fifth studio album by American hip hop duo OutKast, released September 23, 2003 on LaFace Records in the United States. Issued as a double album, its playtime of more than two hours is distributed over solo albums from each of the group's members. Speakerboxxx is the solo project of Big Boi and a Southern hip hop album with a P-Funk influence, while André 3000's The Love Below features psychedelic, pop, funk, electro, and jazz styles.
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below received acclaim from most music critics, earning praise for the consistency of Big Boi's Speakerboxxx and the eclectic musical style of André 3000's The Love Below. The album was supported with the hit singles "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move", which both reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It is the second hip-hop album to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In 2009, NME ranked Speakerboxxx/The Love Below number 44 on its list of the top 100 greatest albums of the decade, while Newsweek ranked the album number one on its list of the ten best albums of the decade. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below has been certified diamond and 11 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping more than 11 million units (in this case, 5.5 million double album sets, which are double-counted by the RIAA).
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below represented a departure from Outkast's previous work. The album worked as two albums on a single set, with the first (Speakerboxxx) working as a Big Boi solo project and the second (The Love Below) as an André solo album. Critics pointed to this fact, and some felt what initially limits the album finally helps it succeed artistically. Stephen Thomas Erlewine compared this expanded creative freedom between each members of the group with what happened to The Beatles in 1968, saying "the effect is kind of like if the Beatles issued The White Album as one LP of Lennon tunes, the other of McCartney songs—the individual records may be more coherent, but the illusion that the group can do anything is tarnished. By isolating themselves from each other, Big Boi and Andre 3000 diminish the idea of OutKast slightly, since the focus is on the individuals, not the group. Which, of course, is part of the point of releasing solo albums under the group name—it's to prove that the two can exist under the umbrella of the OutKast aesthetic while standing as individuals." 
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is a concept album, with the two disc offering the members' individual perspectives. André 3000 entered the studio with the intention of having each song representing a different character. He explained, "this character I had in mind is still a shallow guy going back and forth. You never knew which girl he would end up with. I wanted to be raw and bring things up, appeal to how people think for real. Like the morning after two strangers that have been intimate—what they’re really thinking right after is often different from how they’re acting." He aimed for honesty on the record, as a response to the bravado-heavy style of hip-hop at the time.
Speakerboxxx, Big Boi's solo disc, opens with "Ghettomusik", a "machine-gun-speed rap reclaiming '80s electrofunk from hipster ironists" that speaks out against rappers who put little effort into their music, opining that they should be "detained by the hip-hop sheriff". The next track, "Unhappy", discusses the topics of debt and jail and contains elements of psychedelia and soul music.
Most critics were also particularly more interested in André's half of the album than in Big Boi's solo venture, due to the experimentation with several music genres on The Love Below. The intro of the album was already a trip on classical music, "Love Hater" has purely jazz influences, and the rest was a combination of soul, funk, R&B, and hip-hop. Will Hermes from Entertainment Weekly pointed that André's album "is as strange and rich a trip as pop offers nowadays, a song cycle about love's battle against fear and (self-) deception that's frequently profound, hilarious, and very, very sexy."  Prince's influences are very notable on André 3000, as it is particularly noted on the track "She Lives in My Lap" (very reminiscent to Prince's "She's Always in My Hair"), a funky piece where André's voice is accompanied by a female voice in a style similar to the one of Prince's bandmates Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. The Love Below also found André singing more than rapping (a fact that found criticism on many fans familiarized with OutKast previous style). Hermes noted: "Dre sings more than raps here, which could be a problem, as his nasal drawl isn't the greatest instrument. But hip-hop, like punk, is about making magic with limited means through the sheer force of creative will, and whether he's cooing baby noises on the Goth-soul cha-cha Pink & Blue or scatting with multiplatinum siren Norah Jones on the interlude Take Off Your Cool, Dre's limitations read here like strengths."
The Love Below is substantially longer than Big Boi's Speakerboxxx, clocking in at almost 78 minutes, compared to 56 minutes for Speakerboxxx. Featured guests on Speakerboxxx include Sleepy Brown, Jazze Pha, Jay-Z, Cee-Lo Green, Killer Mike, Goodie Mob, Lil' Jon and Ludacris. Guests on The Love Below include Rosario Dawson, Norah Jones, Kelis, and Fonzworth Bentley. Songs that were to be featured on The Love Below included "Millionaire" featuring Kelis and "Long Way to Go" featuring Gwen Stefani. Those two were scrapped, and instead included in the collaborators' own albums—Tasty and Love. Angel. Music. Baby., respectively. Big Boi included André 3000 in producing and co-writing on four tracks from Speakerboxxx, while on The Love Below, the only song featuring a verse by Big Boi is "Roses".
After having had three number two-albums on the U.S. Billboard 200, OutKast enjoyed their first chart-topping album with Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. The album debuted at number one during the week of October 11, 2003, selling more than 510,000 copies in its first week. It became the second-biggest debut for a double album during the Soundscan-era (beginning in 1991). The album sold 235,000 copies in its second week, holding its position atop the Billboard chart. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below spent the next three weeks in the top 5 before returning to the top spot for one more week. Sales remained strong, and the album would spend another four weeks at #1 between January and February 2004. In all, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below amassed a total of seven weeks at #1, 24 weeks in the Top 10, and 56 weeks on the Billboard 200. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below has been certified diamond and 11 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping more than 11 million units (in this case, 5.5 million double album sets, which are double-counted by the RIAA).
The single "Hey Ya!" went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, topping the charts there for 9 weeks. It was the act's second #1 single, following 2001's "Ms. Jackson". "Hey Ya!" also topped the singles charts in Canada and Australia, and charted in 28 countries around the world. "Hey Ya!" was also the first platinum download on iTunes. Follow-up single "The Way You Move" knocked "Hey Ya!" off the top of the charts in the U.S. in February 2004, just the seventh time a recording act replaced itself at number one. "The Way You Move" topped the singles chart for one week. The third single released from the album was "Roses" from The Love Below, which reached #9. The fourth and fifth singles released, "Prototype" (The Love Below) and "GhettoMusick" (Speakerboxxx), did not chart.
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below received acclaim from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 91, based on 25 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim". Allmusic writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine called both discs "visionary, imaginative listens, providing some of the best music of 2003, regardless of genre". Entertainment Weekly's Will Hermes commented that the album's "ambition flies so far beyond that of anyone doing rap right now (or pop, or rock, or R&B)". Kris Ex of the Los Angeles Times called it "a cohesive statement" and praised both discs' musical quality. In his review for Blender, Ex gave the album five out of five stars and commented that it "holds an explosion of creativity that couldn’t have been contained in just one LP". The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey described both discs as "sublime ... hip-hop's Sign o' the Times or The White Album: a career-defining masterpiece of breathtaking ambition".
Andy Gill of The Independent asserted that the album "sets a new benchmark not just for hip hop, but for pop in general". Stylus Magazine's Nick Southall called it "a series of spectacular moments and memorable events". Greg Tate of The Village Voice drew comparisons to P-Funk on Speakerboxxx and to Prince on The Love Below. In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album an A- rating, indicating "the kind of garden-variety good record that is the great luxury of musical micromarketing and overproduction." He viewed that the album could have been "the classic P-Funk rip it ain't quite" had Speakerboxxx alone been issued with "Roses", "Spread", "Hey Ya!", and "an oddity of [André 3000's] choosing", but nonetheless commended its "commercial ebullience, creative confidence, and wretched excess, blessed excess, impressive excess".
In a mixed review, Rolling Stone writer Jon Caramanica was ambivalent towards André 3000 expressing his "right to be peculiar in a hip-hop context". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine felt that the album's indulgence was a weakness, but commended OutKast's ambition and stated, "The Love Below is more consistent than Speakerboxxx. Still, as was probably intended, the double-album is greater than the sum of its parts, and this kind of expertly crafted pop and deftly executed funk rarely happen at the same time—not since Stankonia, at least." By contrast, Brent DiCrescenzo found Speakerboxxx to be superior to The Love Below and wrote that the former "manages to maintain consistent brilliance and emotional complexity throughout". John Mulvey of NME described its two discs as "two Technicolor explosions of creativity that people will be exploring, analysing and partying to for years". Cynthia Fuchs of PopMatters described it as "imperfect and ambitious, sometimes startling and always smart". In a retrospective review, Rolling Stone's Roni Sarig gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and stated, "[F]or sheer breadth, ambition, and musical vision, there's little doubt Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is a classic."
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll. The album was nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning three (Album of the Year, Best Urban/Alternative Performance for "Hey Ya!", and Best Rap Album). OutKast's other nominations were for Producer of the Year, and Best Short-Form Music Video and Record of the Year, both for "Hey Ya!". Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was the second hip hop album to receive the Grammy for Album of the Year (following The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999). In Australia, "Hey Ya!" was voted number two on the 2003 Triple J Hottest 100, the country's biggest alternative music poll of its type. The jazz periodical Down Beat chose it as the best "beyond" album. In 2012 Complex named the album one of the classic albums of the last decade. In 2013, NME ranked Speakerboxxx/The Love Below as #183 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
|1.||"Intro" (produced by Cutmaster Swift)||1:29|
|2.||"Ghetto Musick" (produced by and featuring André 3000)||Antwan Patton, Bunny Sigler, Kenny Gamble, André Benjamin||3:56|
|3.||"Unhappy" (produced by Mr. DJ)||Patton, David Sheats||3:19|
|4.||"Bowtie" (featuring Sleepy Brown and Jazze Pha, produced by Big Boi)||Patton, Phalon Alexander, Patrick Brown||3:56|
|5.||"The Way You Move" (featuring Sleepy Brown, produced by Carl Mo & Big Boi)||Patton, Carlton "Carl Mo" Mahone, Brown||3:54|
|6.||"The Rooster" (produced by Carl Mo & Big Boi)||Patton, Mahone, Donnie Mathis||3:57|
|7.||"Bust" (featuring Killer Mike, produced by Big Boi)||Patton, Myrna Crenshaw, Michael Render||3:08|
|8.||"War" (produced by Mr. DJ)||Patton, Sheats||2:43|
|9.||"Church" (produced by André 3000)||Patton, Kevin Kendricks, Benjamin, Crenshaw, Brown||3:27|
|11.||"Tomb of the Boom" (featuring Konkrete, Big Gipp and Ludacris, produced by Big Boi)||Patton, Cameron Gipp, Chris Bridges, Nathaniel Elder, Cory Andrews, James Patton||4:46|
|13.||"Knowing" (featuring André 3000, produced by Mr. DJ)||Patton, Benjamin||3:32|
|14.||"Flip Flop Rock" (featuring Killer Mike and Jay-Z, produced by Big Boi & Mr. DJ)||Patton, Shawn Carter, Render, Sheats||4:35|
|16.||"Reset" (featuring Khujo and Cee Lo Green, produced by Big Boi)||Patton, Thomas Burton, Willie Knighton||4:35|
|18.||"Last Call" (featuring Slimm Calhoun, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz and Mello, produced by André 3000)||Patton, Benjamin, James Hollins, Brian Loving||3:57|
|19.||"Bowtie" (Postlude)||Patton, Alexander, Brown||0:34|
All tracks on The Love Below were produced solely by André 3000 except "Roses", which was co-produced by Dojo5.
|The Love Below|
|1.||"The Love Below" (Intro)||Benjamin||1:27|
|2.||"Love Hater"||Kendricks, Benjamin||2:49|
|4.||"Happy Valentine's Day"||Benjamin||5:23|
|6.||"Where Are My Panties?"||1:54|
|8.||"She Lives in My Lap" (featuring Rosario Dawson)||Willie Dennis, Isaac Hayes, Roger Troutman, Doug King, Rosario Dawson, Brad Jordan, Eric Vidal, Benjamin, Dino Hawkins||4:27|
|9.||"Hey Ya!"||Benjamin, Patton||3:55|
|10.||"Roses" (featuring Big Boi)||Benjamin, Patton, Matt Boykin||6:09|
|11.||"Good Day, Good Sir"||1:24|
|12.||"Behold a Lady"||Benjamin||4:37|
|13.||"Pink & Blue"||Robert Kelly, Benjamin||5:04|
|14.||"Love in War"||Benjamin||3:25|
|15.||"She's Alive"||Kendricks, Benjamin||4:06|
|16.||"Dracula's Wedding" (featuring Kelis)||Benjamin||2:32|
|17.||"My Favorite Things"||Benjamin||5:14|
|18.||"Take Off Your Cool" (featuring Norah Jones)||Benjamin, Patton||2:38|
|20.||"A Life in the Day of Benjamin André (Incomplete)"||Benjamin, Patton||5:11|
- In 2003, the album was reissued, with "The Love Below" having a revised track listing. A 21 second skit was placed before "My Favorite Things", entitled "The Letter". To make room, the radio excerpt from "A Life in the Day of Benjamin André" was excised, shortening the track to 4:50. This revised album now serves as the version for sale on MP3.
- Sample credits
- "Ghetto Musick", from Speakerboxxx, contains samples of "Love, Need & Want You" by Patti LaBelle.
- The first few seconds of "Intro" from Speakerboxxx is a sample of the beginning of the song "Europop" from the Eiffel 65 album of the same name.
- "She Lives in My Lap", from The Love Below, contains samples of "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" by Geto Boys and "Pistolgrip-Pump" by Volume 10.
- "Pink & Blue", from The Love Below, contains samples of "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" by Aaliyah and "Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas.
- "My Favorite Things" from The Love Below contains samples from John Coltrane's 1960 recording by the same name.
Chart procession and succession
Grand Champ by DMX
Measure of a Man by Clay Aiken
The Diary of Alicia Keys by Alicia Keys
Closer by Josh Groban
|Billboard 200 number-one album
October 5–18, 2003
November 9–15, 2003
January 4–17, 2004
January 25 – February 7, 2004
Chicken*N*Beer by Ludacris
Shock'n Y'all by Toby Keith
Closer by Josh Groban
Kamikaze by Twista
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- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below at Discogs
- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below at Metacritic
- International chart positions at acharts.us