by Unkle Funkle
So I’m sitting on my couch…smoking a hookah pipe and enjoying the health benefits of the herbal cookies I had earlier. After reading the Creative Loafing article on the 12th anniversary of Outkast’s landmark album Aquemini, I decided to listen to the album in its entirety so that I can remember why it was one of my favorite albums to begin with and why it’s still important now.
My fondest memories of this album always involve me riding with my best friend while she blasted it in her yellow X-Terra. I was 19 years old. All I knew was that it had just received The Source magazine’s coveted 5 mics, which meant that it was pretty much a classic. At the time, I didn’t understand how significant this album would turn out to be in the history of the hip-hop movement. Now, at 31 years old, I get it. And after reading that article (which is one of the most interesting and entertaining pieces of journalism I have read in years), I have more of a 3-D insight into what it took to actually get this album made. Reading the track-by-track analysis from the entire Dungeon Family and all of the musicians that worked on them is such a rare treat for true music lovers.
I have pretty much fallen in love with this album all over again.
What I understand about Aquemini today is that it was really a spiritual journey of an album. It’s feels like church for folks that don’t really do church but could certainly some in their lives. Big Boi and Dre were searching for higher ground, and not only did they elevate themselves as artists, but they elevated the entire genre of hip-hip and showed everyone how to step outside the proverbial box…by floating about it.
There are a ton of highlights on this album, but there are two tracks that changed my perception of the type of music that could exist on a southern hip-hip album: “SpottieOttieDopalicious”, a pimped-out spoken word piece with that often-repeated tribute to Florida Evans (damn, damn, damn James!!!), and “Liberation” with its 9-minute psychedelic soul cipher.
Delving further into the album is like driving deeper into Georgia, yielding trips through backwoods and bayous that were previously off limits to those who are not natives.
I am pleasantly surprised at how fresh this album still sounds. If I were to put this album up against a popular hip-hop album of today, I would ultimately choose Aquemini for its sheer boldness and musicality which is sorely lacking in music today, hip-hop or otherwise.
Thank you, Outkast, for taking the time to create this masterpiece. You gave everyone a tool with which we could contemplate, meditate on, and escape life’s hardships, or celebrate them if we wanted to. We could just lay our souls bare on the altar, as y’all did, and not be judged. This album shattered so many perceptions and stereotypes of what it means to be southern, what it means to be an MC, what it means to be a black man in America, and not just Georgia. And for that, I applaud you.
If all of their albums are crown jewels, then Aquemini is the diamond centerpiece that helped pave the way for them to be able to become the fearless, visionary leaders that they are today.
In honor of the 12th anniversary of Aquemini’s release, I invite everyone who owns it to pull it out and put it back into heavy rotation. For those who don’t own it, get your asses on the bus, move to the back of it, and travel that road to redemption. You can thank me later.