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[OutKast: The Videos] OutKast :: The Videos
Label: Arista Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

At a time when "mecca of underground hip-hop" would not have been associated with Atlanta, GA along came a crew of hip-hop artists whose Organized Noize shook up the rap world and then made an even larger impact on pop culture as a whole. As this Family gathered in the Dungeoun to plan their revolution, the upper echelons of the soundquake rose to a prominence and popularity in pop culture even they couldn't anticipate. There's no small irony that the pioneering duo of Andre Benjamin and Big Boi called themselves OutKast, a tag team who wanted to make trends instead of following them, yet ended up being the standard for others to emulate. Their perfect yin/yang hip-hop role of eclectic expressionist and concretely grounded street thug gave them credibility with a wide range of music aficianadoes, from the hardest of G's to the backpackers club searching for the next great set of beats and rhymes.

For those who've been with OutKast since the very beginning of their long and strange journey, a compilation of their music videos will no doubt seem overdue. The simply titled "OutKast: The Videos" is as such no more or less than what you would expect. It's all the videos that made OutKast pop icons, allowing them to express their creativity while achieving the uniquely rare balance of not compromising their artistic integrity. Indeed as you watch the eleven music videos on this DVD, from "Player's Ball" to "Hey Ya," the one thing that becomes clear is that Andre Benjamin gets increasingly MORE bizarre and eclectic as the group gets bigger and more successful. In the opening tandem of videos that includes "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" the duo are vocally dinstinct but nearly identitical in their clothing styles, wearing b-boy fashions and Atlanta Braves jerseys. It's on "Elevators (Me & You)" that their unique personalities get drawn out, under the seemingly innocent context of a video presented as a hip-hop comic book. Andre wears a head wrap and an excessively loud purple splotched t-shirt, while Big Boi looks highly pimped out in his black hat, spotted suit and thick gold chain. Even when the video shifts to a "spiritual" chapter of the comic book, his t-shirt and doo rag still reflect his hardness, although the glasses give him the "intellectual thug" style that best epitomizes his still underrated verbal skills. By the time the trippy techno-paced "Bombs Over Baghdad" hits there's no question they're on some next shit. Purple hills, fractal geometry, green roads, and girls with some tig ol' bitties dancing to the beat. A shirtless Andre hops in a speeding ride, while Big Boi changes haircuts about four times before dropping out the back of a semi trailer in a lowrider, hitting switches all the way.

The video that OutKast are probably most famous for to this day though is "Ms. Jackson," which deserves credit as one of the most cinematic hip-hop masterpieces of all time. As Andre and Big Boi attempt to repair a house and car that are falling apart (symbolic of the relationships with women that fall apart in their lyrics) a bevy of pets head nod to the beats and make cat and dog owners everywhere try to get their critters to do the same thing. None can top the owl that pops up behind Andre's shoulder though, echoing his "Forever - forever ever? (FOREVER EVER?)" lyric. The animals even seem to be singing along as the storm around Big Boi and Andre worsens, but just when things seem their darkest the sun shines in at the end bringing both hope that "Ms. Jackson" will eventually forgive their transgressions from making baby momma's daughter cry the buckets they used to catch falling drops through the leaky roof of that video's house. Shit's deep. My personal favorite though is "So Fresh, So Clean" - it shows of Big Boi at his "cooler than Freddie Jackson sipping a milkshake in a snowstorm" pimpish best, while the increasingly bizarre Andre Benjamin seems to be at the hairshop getting a perm - seriously. Later when they hit "The Spot" it looks more like a church filled with the flyest hoodrats you ever seen, complete with a Bruce Bruce sized preacher up in front of the congregation singing the hook.

Never afraid to trip the light fantastic, Andre Benjamin would push it a level beyond to a level even I had trouble relating to on "The Whole World." While it's still one of my favorite OutKast songs, the site of Andre in a platinum blonde wig and various accessories from feather boas to technicolor capes is a little much, and that's BEFORE he starts rapping. Once the first verse unfurls, he puts on some make-up and a top hat straight out of Baron Samadhi lore and struts around a three-ring circus. It's left to Killer Mike on the second verse to TRY and bring this runaway roller coaster to a stop, but he can't overcome Andre's nutty fashion sense. And it's at this point that the DVD starts to drag and become repetitive, as both long and short versions of the combined "The Way You Move/Hey Ya!" video are shown, as well as a single version of "Hey Ya!" by itself. Question - was it really necessary to have "Hey Ya!" on here three times? Furthermore, why a single version of "Hey Ya!" and not of "The Way You Move" as well? Who made the executive version to have one, but not the other, and how did they decide that anyway? "The Way You Move" is pretty damn dope, while sadly "Hey Ya!" is possibly the only song OutKast recorded in their entire long career that I absolutely LOATHE. To this day I still don't know why Andre Benjamin gave up rapping for singing, because he's really damn good at the former and pretty much mediocre at the latter. Leave the crooning to Sleepy Brown, por favor.

On the whole, "OutKast: The Videos" is worth the price of admission, but if you're looking for videos from their more obscure songs, live concert footage, duets with other Dungeon Family members or any kind of bonus material whatsoever, you're not going to find it. "OutKast: The Videos" means ONLY the videos, but since the videos are for the most part the bomb it's still all good.

Content: 8 of 10 Layout: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

Originally posted: January 11, 2005
source: www.RapReviews.com

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