Retro Review: Aquemini
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Retro Review: Aquemini

Aquemini album cover
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Aquemini, by OutKast

Coming off the success of ATLiens, OutKast follows up with Aquemini as their third studio album. The popularity (and sales) allowed them to be more expressive and experimental on the approach for this album, and it pays off in a big way. The subtle genre-bending approach while maintaining their soul allows for a much-appreciated hip-hop album in the time that “Money, cash, and hoes” started to be the norm.

  • Lyrics
  • Instrumentation
  • Production
  • Features
  • Longevity
  • Impact
  • Personal Preference
4.7
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Review

Lyrics
 Not a lot of people regard southern artists as lyricists that can paint a picture with their words. Every time I hear that argument, I point them towards OutKast. While André 3000 has a more unique delivery, Big Boi can still bring it with the best of them. Not many artists will ever get a 5-star rating for their lyrics and delivery, but OutKast definitely earns it with Aquemini.
Instrumentation
 With the aforementioned freedom, OutKast was able to afford some experimentation on the instrumentals as well. This allowed for a much more interesting sound than a lot of albums that came before (or after). You have some bouncy stuff, some soulful stuff, and even some electronic stuff. Aquemini has stuff for all moods. I’m particularly fond of the beat on “Liberation.” It just hits me in a spot that few other hip-hop beats can.
Production
 Coming back to the experimentation (you see a theme here?), no real audio quality is lost in translation. Having the freedom that stability brings can really make for some interesting music for artists. The thing that separates this from a lot of other experimental albums is that it still manages to feel cohesive. You don’t really lose the sense of immersion, even though the subject matter jumps around. That’s about as good as production can get.
Features
 There weren’t a lot of features on this album, but when they went, they went big. They brought in George Clinton of P-Funk fame. Then, Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. Finally,  the Goodie Mob (Cee-Lo on “Liberation,” T-Mo, Big Gipp, and Khujo on “Y’all Scared.” None of the features felt forced either, so that’s always a plus haha.
Longevity
 Going back and listening to this album, 20 years after it’s release, just has me wondering… Why the fuck don’t people make albums like this anymore? I can listen to the whole thing, all the way through, just like I could when I first got it (multiple times, on repeat.) The album still makes it into the top Rolling Stone lists, and they’re fickle as fuck. That should pretty much say everything for you.
Impact
While they only debuted at #2 on the Billboards with this one (they had to share a release date with Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life), it’s safe to say that this album was a success. It helped bring some light to the whole Dungeon Family as well. As selective as they’ve been with their releases since then, it’s no wonder André and Big Boi are such sought-after artists. I think this album helped earn them that.
Personal Preference
 As much as I was a fan of ATLiens, Aquemini will always be my favorite OutKast album. To take it a little further than that, Aquemini is my favorite southern hip-hop album. I think that should pretty much speak for itself.

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