September 29, 2016

OutKast "Aquemini" (XXL Review, 1998) + Rosa Park vs OutKast

"As the release of OutKast's third installment, Aquemini, drew near, fans of the Dirty South were getting a bit antsy, and understandably so. After the funk of their 1994 debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, was followed up with the more subdued, experimental ATLiens in '96, many devotees were left confused as they threw their hands in the ay-er. What would the older, wealthier OutKast do next? Don't stress. Atlanta's finest come correct with Aquemini, a tight third album featuring an eclectic mix of tracks a la their sophomore effort - but with just enough elements of their classic debut to remind you how they got where they are. The backing track used on "Slump" could have come off the first album - rich with bass and easy on the strings and keys. But Dre and Big Boi aren't taking the criticism of their second album lying down: naysayers are addressed in "Return of the G," which features an ominous blend of instrumentals and boom bap."

"Rosa Parks" has a similar tone, as Dre rhymes about buying a new tape from his favorite rapper and hoping that it's jamming. Teamed once again with the Organized Noize production team, Outkast stirs a mix of horns, guitars and percussion on Aquemini that is no less than brilliant on songs like "SpottieOttie-Dopalicious" (a spoken word piece) and "Chonkyfire." And if anyone is still sleeping on these cats' rhyming skills, each of them put all doubts to rest with a ridiculous flow. To top it off, guest appearances from Raekwon on "Skew It On The Bar-B" and Goodie Mob's Cee-Lo and Dre's lady Erykah Badu on "Liberation" gives the album a broader view, but it still remains OutKast's show. Much of Aquemini takes on the serious tone of Hotlanta cohorts Goodie Mob lyrically and musically, yet it's festive enough for folks to appreciate when they just want to marinate." Cont'd below...

Interestingly, while "Rosa Parks" was the first single to Aquemini, it was not released without issue. In March (2000), Vibe released an article, titled: "Rosa Parks sues Outkast and loses." Rosa Parks sued OutKast, their label, parent company and distributor in federal court, "claiming the duo had no right to use "Rosa Parks" as the title of their 1998 party anthem. As punishment, she sought $25,000 and the removal of her name from all OutKast releases," which would have cost at least 6 figures. The federal judge "determined that artistic works that use the names of public figures in their titles are protected from publicity claims under the First Amendment. In other words, OutKast could use Park's name." Vibe ads, "She apparently learned of the song's existence from her minister and soon discovered that "Rosa Parks" contained profanity and the chorus "Ah hah, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus," which she understood to be an insult" ... In a statement, Dre and Big Boi said, "We are pleased that our freedom of speech wasn't compromised but are still saddened that Ms. Park's lawyers felt the need to take this to court.... We respect Ms. Parks and all that she has done for our people and this country." - Vibe, March 2000.