clap clap blog: we have moved

Monday, September 29, 2003
All right, well it clearly wasn't "upon my return," but so goes my life these days. Still: Outkast.

It might be worth it for all y'all burn-hounds to actually pick this one up (or at least check out someone's physical copy) because the packaging is pretty cool. Well, less the packaging, I guess, and more the liner notes, which, aside from featuring all the lyrics to the non-skit songs (thanks guys!), has some really interesting photos. I mean, you knew it would--it's Outkast, after all, and even if you've only glanced at it in the store, you've seen the borderline-atrocious picture of Big Boi on one cover and the hilarious one of Andre on the other (a Glock and pearls? Oh, Mr. 3000!). But inside...well. How to put it? I guess, basically, it made me understand why Salon assigned someone "writing a book about racial passing in American culture" to review the album.

OK, there's Andre under the Eiffel tower in a plaid suit. OK, there's Andre as a centaur in the heavens with three naked ladies. I'll even give him, sorta, the one with him on a bench with a girl and a bulldog. But the one on the inside back cover makes me wonder. It's him on a hill, having a picnic with his wife, who is in a crew-neck orange sweater with white collar peeking out, and his children, who are in penny loafers. Andre himself has his hair slicked back (as he does in the bench and Eiffel shots) and is wearing what can only be described as an outfit straight out of the 50's. The whole thing resembles either a shot from a religious pamphlet or Far From Heaven. In other words, it's kind of a minstrelry of whiteness.

Which all makes me wonder--and honestly, I'm asking this, I don't have an answer yet--is Andre just fucking with us, with this and the whole "Hey Ya" thing? Is he pulling a fast one on us white people? Outkast, of course, has a bit of a reputation as a hip-hop group white people like (which is probably true, given that they won two Grammies and all) and various critics (unlike moi) have seen fit to hedge their bets on "Hey Ya" in particular, and The Love Below in general, by saying that well, obviously, it's just going to appeal to rock critics (read: white people) more. And while I don't see any particular problem with that, it does make me wonder, as I say, what exactly the master plan is here.

Of course, it also makes me wonder if there's any answer to the question "How much does Andre like Prince?" other than "a lot." Aside from the specific parallels ("Hey Ya" being the "Raspberry Beret" of 2003, for my money, and the minimalism of the drums there in the ecstatic-pop context evoke nothing more than "Kiss"), Andre seems to have, on this album, done a nice job of solving the problem of audience and race that sent Prince spinning into the art-jazz abyss of late--albeit an abyss that's well-deserved, since we'll still be figuring out his 80's output in 20 years, most likely. But from what I understand of the Prince mythos, he began rebelling against his almost universal pop appeal (exemplified, perhaps, by the lack of any bass in some of his best songs) by making what he perceived as "black" music, first with the Black album and now more or less continually with NEWS etc. But Andre has, I think, figured out a way around this, one that's actually rooted in Outkast's appeal: genre-hopping/melding. And one of the genres he's aiming toward is Coltrainey jazz, but if this album is any indication, he wants to fuck with it and mix it with other shit. And that's not white or black but just musical. It's interesting, anyway.

And oh yes: Miss Clap is a big fan of "Roses." C'mon, guys, he says "poo-poo-poo" in the chorus! How cool is that?

(Although according to the liners he's saying "boo-boo," but bullshit on that.)