Aquemini, Outkast have pulled off a rare feat in hip-hop: they've made a good record that's a masterpiece of subtlety. What's more, it's their third record, and they've yet to fall into a rut—and that alone puts them in line for an award. The Organized Noize production crew is sublime, working with live musicians and crafting hook-filled soundscapes that complement Big Boi and Andre Benjamin's melodic patter. (See "Rosa Parks," "Chonkyfire," and the epic "Liberation," which features Erykah Badu, Cee Lo, and Big Rube—and clocks in at just under nine minutes.) Classy and intelligent, Outkast haven't sacrificed anything in their quest to make challenging, innovative hip-hop that forgoes idle boasting for the duo's message. A sample, from the title track: "Now, question: Is every nigga wit dreads for the cause? / Is every nigga wit golds for the fall? Naw / So don't get caught in appearance."
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