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Sunday, October 05, 2003
From the Times...

Outkast's divided album has some fans scared that the two halves will never reunite, but these two discs offer plenty of proof that the partnership makes sense. André 3000's flightier compositions could use a bit of Big Boi's earthy patter, and some of Big Boi's dense raps would benefit from André 3000's gleeful singing. In any case, the discs succeed because of the duo's shared sensibility, at once playful and thoughtful; they deflate their own pretensions by insisting that they are just having fun.

You'd never use a word like fun to describe the eccentric approach of Ms. Badu...Ms. Badu prints her new manifesto on the cover. "Freakquency is born and neo-soul is dead," it reads."Are you afraid of change? Well, change makes dollars. Follow the leader." That's precisely the kind of defensive attitude that Outkast has spent a decade avoiding, but it seems to fit Ms. Badu's current mood...if André 3000 and Big Boi have figured out that love can be fun, Ms. Badu seems just as convinced that love can be terrifying, and her album suggests that desire is a form of spirit possession.


It's clear that Ms. Badu doesn't share Outkast's knack for popularization, for making the strange seem familiar. In fact, she seems to be blessed — or maybe cursed — with the opposite skill. She's a first-rate depopularizer, able to make even the familiar sounds of 1970's jazz and funk seem strange...She turns every song into a burial rite, gathering up her favorite grooves and putting them back underground.

"Hey, do I feel like listening to a burial rite today? Gee, lemme think..."