Not so idle after all

By By Spencer Young

By Spencer Young



Laface Records

Three-and-a-half out of five stars

Outkast wastes no time getting things started ATL-crunk-style at the start of Idlewild: The rhymes flow as fluid and dirty as the mighty Mississippi River. The beats bank and pop through the keyboard-driven melodies, which have given Outkast its distinctive and diverse sound in hip-hop.

Of course, the “hos” get respected disrespectfully through a theme that pervades most hip-hop albums. But at least Outkast has the basic decency to keep the insolence honest and straightforward: “I want to get into you/ Don’t want no girlfriend/ Just want to get into you.”

Outkast does, however, keep things positive by throwing out uplifting messages to the folks who feel too constrained by time and money to clear their heads and utilize their hearts-a gesture evidenced on the bluesy and lyrically brilliant track, “Chronomentrophobia.”

Idlewild is kept buoyant and palatable via the diverse range of guest appearances (Snoop Dogg, Too $hort and several female vocalists), and Andr 3000’s lyrical work continues to escape generalization. There are several vapid interludes and sampled segments of dialogue from the film Idlewild (also starring Outkast’s members) that give this “companion album” more of a soundtrack feel than an album-album feel. But, then again, there are 25 tracks (more than 77 minutes’ worth) here, so there’s plenty of material to pull from. Enjoying Idlewild as a cohesive package is a matter of collage: How you skip and pick through the heavy selection to select the tracks that can stand on their own (there are roughly seven) is of utmost importance.

The album’s last track, “A Bad Note,” is the strangest direction I have ever heard a popular hip-hop group take-it’s nine minutes of Pink Floyd, drug-induced guitars, slow rpm, shadow-cast rhythm set to droned and dreary lyrics.

Which is to say, there is something for everyone on Idlewild.