'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below': OutKast Divide and Conquer

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Thu, 09/23/2021 - 21:06
OutKast at the Grammy Awards in 2004

After releasing their biggest commercial success with 2000's Stankonia, it seemed like OutKast couldn't get any bigger. Then the Atlanta duo defied expectations by achieving even greater success in a most unusual way.

READ MORE: October 2000: OutKast Releases 'Stankonia'

After scoring an unexpected chart-topper with Stankonia's "Miss Jackson," Big Boi and Andre 3000 were unsure of what move to make next. Dre briefly tried his hand at acting before diving headfirst into recording some solo songs - this time less focused on hip-hop and more on Prince-like R&B, pop and even psychedelia. "I was going for a different take on the bravado of rap to show a more affected character," Dre told XXL in 2013. "Whatever your emotions are, you have emotions...this character I had in mind is still a shallow guy going back and forth."

Big Boi, meanwhile, was still interested in making a hip-hop party record to follow Stankonia. But rather than release them as solo albums, they decided to show off their personalities as part of OutKast's most ambitious project yet. "It was basically just giving two sides of the coin; my perspective and Dre’s perspective," Big Boi told XXL that same year. "Our main goal in making every album is to make the most jammin’ shit on the planet. We just wanted to go through grooves and sounds, one side me, one side him, and now it’s history, it’s in the history books."

"History books" describes Speakerboxxx/The Love Below pretty well. The album reached the top of the Billboard 200 for seven weeks between October 2003 and February 2004. The Love Below's lead single "Hey Ya!" - a party anthem whose music video featured multiple Andres performing on a fictitious late-night talk show and a generational-defining slang in "shake it like a Polaroid picture" - reached the top of the Hot 100 for nine straight weeks, ultimately getting deposed for a tenth by the Big Boi-fronted "The Way You Move." Other highlights included Top 10 single "Roses" (the only Love Below track on which Big Boi raps) and "Ghetto Musick," one of three Speakerboxxx tracks featuring Andre's production.

The album's legend only grew when the album received Grammy Awards for not only Best Rap Album but also Album of the Year - only the second hip-hop album to receive the honor.