From this point on it only gets rougher: The best of Outkast

I came to Outkast late. Impressed by “Elevators (Me and You),” I didn’t go, as the kids say, all-in until Stankonia, which I got as an advanced copy for an unwritten review. The success of “Ms Jackson” — that synth, the Atlanta snap of Andre 3000’s vowels — was among the more gratifying as a chart watcher. And they pulled off the U2 Achtung Baby strategy: trad single for the pop audience, outré single for the die-hards. I worked backwards from there, playing a burned copy of my sister’s CD copy of Aquemini through 2001 and 2002; the sequence from “Rosa Parks” to “Da Art of Storytellin’ (Pt. 2)” is as hair-raising, dirty, and beautiful as any I’ve heard. Warming to Stankonia took some doing. Listened to it lately? “Dense” is a euphemism.

For this list I sneaked in a few tracks off the quieter than I remembered ATLiens and quite a few from Speakerboxx; time has not changed the conclusion many of us reached in 2003 that The Love Below had the kind of ideas which give ambition a bad name. I suppose I blame him for being Mr. Bad Example and persuading Lil Wayne to pick up the guitar. Several tracks didn’t survive replay: the Sleepy Brown collaboration “Can’t Wait”; “The Way You Move” (we need more albums indebted to Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love, so long as the hooks have songs). After Dre’s singing sent my bath stall mirror tumbling, I almost nixed “Hollywood Divorce” too.

1. Rosa Parks
2. Ova du Wudz
3. Crumblin’ Erb
4. Humble Mumble
5. Slump
6. Hey Ya
7. Rooster
8. Wheelz of Steel
9. Gasoline Dreams
10. Bowtie
11. Snappin’ and Trappin’
12. The Whole World
13. Skew It on the Bar-B (ft. Raekwon)
14. West Savannah
15. Elevators
16. Synthesizer
17. Knowing
18. Player’s Ball
19. Unhappy
20. Royal Flush
21. Da Art of Storytellin’ Pt 2
22. SpottieOttieDopalisciou
23. The Train
24. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
25. Hollywood Divorce ft. (Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg)

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