August 22, 2006
Rap, Alternative Rap, Southern Rap

Album Review

A lot happened to OutKast between the moment they began to think about making a movie and the release of Idlewild. In 1998, no studio would back the movie they were plotting. Fast-forward eight years, past a fourth successive classic album, a double-disc blockbuster, and countless breakup rumors, as well as moonlighting gigs involving supporting actor roles and a successful dog kennel. Along the way, OutKast's first movie took on an entirely different shape, from Aquemini to Idlewild, and the duo attained enough star power to gain the support of HBO and Universal. After a series of delays with its soundtrack, Idlewild reached theaters in August 2006. Set in the prohibition era, Big Boi plays a speakeasy owner, while Dré is the relatively introverted piano-playing son of a mortician. These roles are no stretch, and they cross paths in only a handful of scenes; this all befits the together-but-separate presentation the duo has maintained for a few years. That presentation holds true throughout Idlewild's soundtrack, which doubles as the sixth OutKast album. Big Boi and André 1936 share little space on a disc that's not so much a series of misfires as it's filled with shots that reach their targets, albeit softly and with little trace of impact. Rich with color and energy, mischievous asides, and biting observations, the album presents fresh ideas every couple of minutes. However, at the same time, it just keeps on going, and even its highlights fall short of OutKast's past and fail to transcend its assortment of inspirations. Little of it sticks. The music of the '30s seeps through a handful of tracks, the best of which is led by Big Boi protégé Janelle Monaé, a young vocalist who stomps and sways through her time in the spotlight. Despite Dré's likely position as the driving creative force behind the whole project -- and its further strides away from what his detractors think he should be doing -- he's far more effective as an MC than a singer. When it comes to rapping, he's "bored" with "no dragon to battle," yet the verse containing that proclamation outstrips just about all the lines he croons. "Hollywood Divorce" is an exception, where he does triple duty (producer, MC, vocalist) and guides Big Boi, Lil Wayne, and Snoop Dogg through a modern-day version of "Burn Hollywood Burn." Big Boi is the album's saving grace, still every bit the undervalued force with scythe-like rhymes and gazelle-like moves. Idlewild is certainly a spectacle, and an occasionally entertaining and enlightening one at that, but it translates into an elaborate diversion when compared to what this duo has done in the past.
Andy Kellman, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Intro
  2. Mighty O
  3. Peaches
  4. Idlewild Blue (Don't Chu Worry 'Bout Me)
  5. Infatuation (Interlude)
  6. N2U
  7. Morris Brown
  8. Chronomentrophobia
  9. The Train
  10. Life Is Like a Musical
  11. No Bootleg DVDs (Interlude)
  12. Hollywood Divorce
  13. Zora (Interlude)
  14. Call the Law
  15. Bamboo & Cross (Interlude)
  16. Buggface
  17. Makes No Sense at All
  18. In Your Dreams
  19. PJ & Rooster
  20. Mutron Angel
  21. Greatest Show on Earth
  22. You're Beautiful (Interlude)
  23. When I Look in Your Eyes
  24. Dyin' to Live
  25. A Bad Note
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