Song(s) Of The Day: 4/8/12 (Ghettomusick/Prototype)

And my #1 favorite album out of my 50 favorite albums of the 00’s is of course the double album, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”  by OutKast.

I wanted to share two lesser known songs from the albums, “Ghettomusick” from “Speakerboxxx” and “Prototype” from “The Love Below”. I have said it many times before but, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” is one of the most expansive, catchy, creative and easily one of my favorite albums of all time. It was wildly popular, successful and well reviewed. It sold over 10 million copies and won Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2004, making it only one of two Hip-Hop albums to ever win that honor. The other being Lauryn Hill with “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. These two songs may not have been as popular as their other hits from the albums, “Hey Ya!”, “The Way You Move” & “Roses”, but they are equal in quality as is every other song off the albums. Do you have a favorite song from the albums that wasn’t a single? Please share.

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Song Of The Day: 3/26/12 (Trans DF Express)

So I’ve been meaning to share this song for a while now, since I did my top 5 Rappers of all time countdown, a few weeks back. If you don’t already know, The Dungeon Family is a supergroup that consists of OutKast, Goodie Mob, Sleepy Brown and many other awesome southern Rappers and Producers. This group of Rappers, Singers and Producers are all legends in their own right. They formed back in the early 90s and changed the face of southern Rap as well as music in general. The most notable members from The Dungeon Family are of course, Andre 3000 and Big Boi of OutKast and Cee-Lo of Goodie Mob, who is now a coach of the hit TV show, The Voice. They have numerous awards between them, including many Grammys. I’m not sure how many, but I’m sure its at least a dozen, including one for Album of the Year in 2004 for OutKast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”.  The song of the day, “Trans DF Express” is the single from their awesome collaborative album, “Even In Darkness” that came out just over 10 years ago, back in 2001. So grab your ticket and hop on the Trans DF Express!!!

 

Song Of The Day: 2/12/12 (Roses)

The final Grammy winning Album of the Year, I would like to share with everyone is my very favorite album to ever win the award and quite possibly the best album ever made (in my humble opinion), OutKast’s “Speakerboxx/The Love Below”. It was a double album. One disc was Big Boi’s (“Speakerboxx”) and the other disc was Andre 3000’s (“The Love Below”). This album was HUGE when it came out, back in 2003. Huge enough and great enough to be the only true Hip-Hop album to ever win the Grammy for Album of the Year. I was a big fan of OutKast before this album, but this album cemented them as one of the greatest music acts of all time, for me. The album has sold somewhere around 18 million copies worldwide, making in one of only a handful of Hip-Hop albums to ever reach the Diamond mark and almost the double Diamond mark at that. Give it a few more years, I’m sure it will get there. The Song “Hey Ya!” from “The Love Below” was the first song to ever sell a million MP3 downloads and along with “The Way you Move” from “Speakerboxx”, made OutKast the only group/artist to ever replace itself at the number 1 billboard spot with another one of their own songs, other than The Beatles. I chose the song “Roses” as the song of the day because other than already having shared “Hey Ya” and “The Way You Move” for song of the day a few weeks back, I thought that this was a great example of the diversity that this album held, as well as being really, the only song on the album to utilize both Big Boi and Andre in the same track. Also with Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s perfect, what with the Valentine’s Day theme and the song “Happy Valentine’s Day” from “The Love Below” opening the video. Welcome to “Speakerboxx” and “The Love Below”, two albums, but the same old flow.

The Concept Of “The Love Below”

“Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” by OutKast is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest albums of all time! It blended Rap, Rock, Pop, Funk and basically everything else. It is one of the most diverse albums ever recorded. It won Grammy for album of the year in 2004, making it the only Rap album to ever win that honor. It also went over 11 times Platinum! Not only that, but it has gone on to become one of the most important albums in Hip-Hop history and has inspired and shaped the more emotionally in-touch, experimental, singing Rappers of today, like Kanye West, Drake, Kid Cudi, etc. They simply would not be like they are today without OutKast’s career and “The Love Below” in particular.

“The Love Below” side of the double album is a concept album about Andre 3000’s fictional and not so fictional love life. In the following, you will read the over-arching story of “The Love Below” and how I interpreted it. The story is weaved throughout the album, through every song, track by track. Before I begin, I have to explain that the songs, “Millionaire” with Kelis and “Long Way To Go” with Gwen Stefani, while having appeared on both Kelis and Gwen Stefani’s albums, were initially intended for “The Love Below”, but the record company asked that Andre 3000 shorten the album, so they placed those two songs on Kelis’ and Gwen’s respective albums. After having purchased the “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” CD, importing it to iTunes and downloading Gwen and Kelis’ songs through iTunes, I burned my own version of “The Love Below” and put “Millionaire” after “Love Hater” and “Long Way To Go” after “Pink and Blue” as they work right in to the story of the album, in those places. Now with that said, on to the concept of “The Love Below”!

On the first two tracks of the album, “Intro” and “Love Hater”, Andre 3000 wakes up in the morning and feels dissatisfied with his life, lack of love and the world. “Millionaire” continues that line of thought about life and love and what it all means, but with the added complication his wealth and fame has brought him. He has all the riches, but he still feels empty and lonely. He needs LOVE! After that, he prays to God on the “God” interlude to send him a great woman.

He proceeds to go out for the night and becomes smitten with/falls in love on “Happy Valentine’s Day” (not meant to be taken as a literal Valentine’s day song). It’s about him finding the girl God had sent him. He brings her home and sleeps with her on “Spread”. You can even here him driving her back to his place and them getting out of the car and going through the front door and starting to get busy in the background, hence the title. He got her to “spread”. Then they wake up the next day on the “Where Are My Panties?” interlude.

He really likes this girl and starts to contemplate if she could be the one on “Prototype”. They start spending a lot of time together, fall in love and get engaged (“forever my fiancée”) on “She Lives In My Lap”. Even though they are in love, engaged and always together (in his lap) he can’t bring himself to fully commit through taking the big step (marriage). He ends up getting her pregnant on “Hey Ya!”. If you really listen to it, it’s really about dealing with a pregnancy out of wedlock and not wanting to make the same mistakes their parents made. He’s having a lot of trouble with the concept of settling down (“I don’t want to meet your daddy, I just want you in my Caddy” etc.). He doesn’t want it to be that serious, but now it looks as though they may have no other choice because she is pregnant. It would seem that this woman is representative of his real life baby-mama, Erykah Badu, who he had one child with by the name of Seven.

Then comes “Roses” where the relationship goes sour and he tells her (Caroline) off. This is followed by the “Good Day, Good Sir” interlude and “Behold A Lady” where he meets a new woman. On “Pink and Blue” you find out that this new woman is an older woman. Not only is she an older woman, but you discover she’s also a white woman on “Long Way to Go” They have a lot to tackle between the world’s perceptions of an interracial couple and a couple with such an age difference. They, like the last relationship he had in the album and any other relationship for that matter have its ups and downs on “Love in War”.

Caroline/Erykah from earlier in the album ends up having the previously mentioned baby on “She’s Alive”. He realizes he won’t be there for that baby, much like his Dad wasn’t there for him. The song tells the story of his mother persevering through her struggles as a single mother and his birth juxtapositioned  with the birth of his daughter in the album. He goes on to marry the new older woman on “Dracula’s Wedding”, despite their tumultuous, monster/vampire-like relationship. Then comes “The Letter” interlude, where Caroline writes to him about how she still loves him and misses him and the song “My Favorite Things” is symbolic of the reemergence of feelings for her and him realizing that he really does love her and maybe he picked the wrong girl to marry. “Take Off Your Cool” is the amicable falling apart of his marriage with the older woman and both of them agreeing it’s for the best, because they can’t really be themselves together and they put on this facade (“Cool”) around each other and end up thinking it’s best to go their separate ways.

But on “Vibrate” you find out that in the end he doesn’t go back to the original girl either and ends up alone and taking care of himself hence all the allusions to masturbation (VIBRATEor). This song is also where the albm gets it’s title from when he sings “the love below starts talking to you” (another reference to masturbation). This is juxtapositioned with the idea of him finding himself and spiritually vibrating at a higher frequency now that he is alone again and able to get in-touch with his inner-self. Finally “A Life In The Day Of Benjamin Andre” is just something extra at the end (over the movie’s credits if you will) and sums his whole, actual life up to that point up.

The whole story is very reflective of his real life in many ways. It’s incredible how he built this over-arching story through all of the songs and was able to mirror his real life and experiment musically, in so many awesome and groundbreaking ways. “The Love Below” was originally composed to be the songbook for a film musical that never came to fruition, in it’s original form at least. However, OutKast’s film “Idlewild” which came out a few years later, utilized many of the songs and themes in a completely new story that also worked in Big Boi and many of his songs from the other side of the coin “Speakertboxxx” as well as some songs from their final album “Idlewild” (the companion album). “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”is absolutely one of my favorite albums of all time. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of “The Love Below” the way Andre 3000, hopefully intended it to be interpreted. Now go and listen to the whole album and see if you pick up on this story. Maybe you will pick up on some stuff, I never did, even thought I’ve listened to this album hundreds and hundreds of times. Please share your thoughts, findings or any other comments for that matter. Also check out Big Boi’s side of the double album “Speakerboxx” (not a concept album, but great nonetheless). And “Idlewild” which is in many ways a sequel to “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” is also worth a listen. It is an incredibly overlooked and underrated album and film. In closing, don’t ever forget “OutKast is everlasting”!

Song(s) Of The Day: 1/17/12 (Tied for #1. OutKast) (The Way You Move/Hey Ya!)

My final #1 favorite music act, tied with The Beatles and Michael Jackson are OutKast. You may be wondering why I did a 3 way tie and how that could be. The Beatles, Michael Jackson and OutKast are all so different and equally great in their genre. They have all played very important parts in my life and in the molding of my musical taste. Being that one is Rock, one is Pop and one is Rap, I didn’t think it was fair to compare them and rate them 1, 2 & 3, so I tied them all for #1 because they are all my favorite. OutKast is without a shadow of a doubt, the best, most original and most talented Rap group to ever do it. My favorite for sure. They are also 2 of the best lyricists in the Rap game. They have even been called the Paul McCartney and John Lennon of Rap. They have made classic album after classic album and are still the only Rap group to ever win a Grammy for Album of the Year for “Speakerboxx/The Love Below”, one of my personal favorite albums of all time. “Speakerboxx/The Love Below” as well as all of their other albums, which are all so different, innovative and genre bending, opened me up to even more music than I was before. “Speakerboxx/The Love Below” was a double album. One disc “Speakerboxx” was technically a solo album by Big Boi and the other disc “The Love Below” was technically a solo album by Andre 3000, all under the moniker that is OutKast. It was a very successful album. One of the few Rap albums to ever go diamond. It swept the nation and world. Today I decided to do 2 songs of the day. “The Way You Move” (for some reason I couldn’t find the video for this) from “Speakerboxx” and “Hey Ya!” from “The Love Below”. Both of these videos are also available in one large video, that is connected by a segment in between, but I couldn’t find that version online either. Enjoy. Tomorrow we move on to #4.

I Am……Music

So I LOVE music!!! All music, from Rock to Pop to Rap to R&B to Folk and Country to Classical to just about any other music genre you can think off. Just as a basis, you should know that my very favorite musical artist are  The Beatles, Michael Jackson, OutKast, Kate Bush, Justin Timberlake/*NSYNC, Matchbox Twenty, Billy Joel etc. From that wide range of artists I just mentioned you can get a little feel for my wide range of musical tastes, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of how expansive my tastes are and how deep my love of music goes.

I’ve always had this love for music and have had many different influences in my life that have shaped my eclectic tastes. I grew up listening to music around my Mother mostly and she had me listening to a lot of Pop, R&B & Disco. My father was more into Classical Rock. Being that I was raised by my Mother, I wasn’t exposed to as much Classical Rock in my early years as I would have been, had my Dad been around me more playing that short of stuff. So in my early years I was very much into the type of stuff my Mother listened to and my earliest favorite artist I can remember was Michael Jackson and as I’ve just stated he’s still up on top for me. My older Brother listened to a lot of 90’s Dance music and Rap while I was growing up which later changed to Metal and Hard Rock. So with the combination of my Mother’s influence and my Brother’s influence, by the time I was about 13 to 15, I started to discover my own music taste.

Some of the first artists I remember finding and liking all on my own were *NSYNC, Matchbox Twenty, OutKast, Eminem and The Beatles. Between about 2000 to 2010, throughout high school, college and post college, I dabbled here and there with all sorts of music. Learning about new stuff from friends, media and my own quest for great music. In 2003, OutKast released the incredible “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”, which is my very favorite album and had a huge impact on me. The reason I love it so much is because it, like me and my musical journey, experimented with all different genres, styles and sounds. It is still the only pure Hip-Hop album to ever win Grammy for Album of the Year. This album opened me up more than ever to new sounds and adventurous music. I started listening to other experimental artists and groups like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Kanye West, Gnarls Barkley and more.

I always said the only genres I didn’t really care for were Country and Metal/Hard Rock, but in recent years that wall has started to crumble. When it comes to Country, I actually had a phase when I was around 10 and Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus came out that I listened to a lot of country, but that phase passed pretty quickly. Now a days I enjoy listening to some of the more poppy stuff like Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Dierks Bentley, but also some more gritty Country Rock, like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers. When it comes to Metal/Hard Rock my likes don’t stretch to far because I’m a sucker for Harmony and Melody and I personally find it difficult to hear those elements in Metal and Hard Rock, but I do throughly enjoy System of a Down, early Linkin Park, AC/DC and some others.

I’ve always had a VERY strong desire to create music, but never had the opportunity or resources to learn to play an instrument, so I joined chorus in school and acted and sang in school musicals to exercise that desire as much as possible. In high school and early college I actually started rapping over instrumentals with friends, which was a great way to make music without having to know how to play an instrument. It was a great creative outlet for me, but after a certain point, just rapping wasn’t enough for me and I felt boxed in and unable to really express my musical ideas anymore, because I didn’t have the theoretical knowledge or the knowhow with an instrument to be able to further my creative growth in music.

I stopped making music in about 2006 and since than I haven’t thought to much about creating, but in the last few years and especially the last year as I’ve been trying to step a little more out of mainstream music and into more unexpected artist as well as classic/legendary artists, I’ve realized my desire to no longer be solely an observer (listener) of music, but also a participant (creator) or music. So I have made it my new goal to get a guitar and to start practicing and taking lessons. This leads me to the reason I wanted to start this blog in the first place, which was to have an outlet to share my pretty vast knowledge of music and learn more about music from all of your vast knowledge of music. I also want to document and share my musical journey as I discover more music and learn to play music myself on the guitar and hopefully one day on the piano. I hope that Volume 11 can become a community of passionate music listeners, players and creators. A place where we can share and enjoy all that the music world has to offer. So let’s turn up the music to Volume 11 and jam out!!!

Me, about 4 years ago cranking the music up to Volume 11 and rocking out with my air guitar. I really need to learn to play a real guitar; air guitar isn’t cutting it anymore.