Make My Crunk the P-Funk

The ominous backdrop to "Red Velvet" highlights an antiflossing cautionary that rings truer than most, largely because it sympathizes with the have-nots, rather than the haves. Most hip-hoppers view it from the other side, where getting popped and/or jacked is one of the unfortunate downsides of being ghetto fabulous. But "perils of the rich and famous" jeremiads ring hollow to Dre and Boi; to them it ain't about money, it's about simple courtesy and respect ("Bill Gates don't dangle diamonds in the face of peasants while he's Microsofting the place"). They're closer to the "dirty boys"—"haters" to you in the mink—who keep a spare clip for anyone dumb enough to rub their noses in what they ain't got, and who'll take your life and leave your money behind just to prove a point.

What's most impressive, though, is how the group manages to create soundscapes out of familiar—or even retro—sounds. And how they use those sounds to underpin some of their most knowing narratives, like "Toilet Tisha," a tale of a teenage pregnancy that ends in suicide. Or "Stankonia (Stanklove)," a squishadelic make-out outro with a mournful, Eddie Hazel-style guitar.

Nothing new for these fellas—except this time it sounds like they've pulled out all the stops, seemingly conscious that there are still some heads loath to admit that a couple of fish-'n'-grits eatin' country kneegrows got a leg up on the rest of the pop crowd. Then again, it's entirely possible that OutKast are having too much fun to give a shit. Despite its often somber themes, Stankonia sounds like an album that these cats had a ball making. And now they've left it out there for anybody, anybody with the will and time, to get eyeball deep into their cosmopolitan slop.

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