OutKast

Idlewild (LaFace)

Never a good sign when movies aren't screened far enough in advance for weeklies to review them, but in the case of a hip-hop duo's film, how does that affect the accompanying album? Soundtrack might not be the right word, since this hour-long romp is delivered as an overt "we aren't breaking up" response to rumors from the past few months. In the wake of the Speakerboxxx/Love Below split, cohesive isn't the right word, either. André 3000 continues his funk/soul zag away from Big Boi's straight-rap zig, but where he was the winner last time with "Roses" and "Hey Ya," he's the Idle half here. "Makes No Sense at All" subjects listeners to a horrid three-minute mess of self-indulgent improv, and "Idlewild Blue" is one of a few dinky, blue-eyed soul tracks that are better cast as Mayer 3000, though his brief P-Funk tribute "Chronometrophobia" is at least somewhat redemptive.

This is Big Boi's album, and not just because he puts OutKast back on the map with the marching band bombast of "Morris Brown." The MC's teeth are newly sharp, perhaps truly affected by the breakup rumors, and he lashes out plenty. Big Boi's at his toughest on "In Your Dreams" ("I'm in between sunset and sunrise/just a strong type of nigga for the home invasion surprise") yet infuses the slow jam of "Peaches" with a straight-faced take on post-divorce regret. Strong guests (Macy Grey, Janelle Monae) and weak ones (Snoop Dogg redefining the phrase "phoning it in") round out the rest of the uneven Idlewild, a disc that tries to be an album but is ultimately subject to the filler of a soundtrack. Nice technicality; OutKast (or at least André) can grin this one off and say, "Naw, wait for our actual next album." That excuse probably won't save the movie, though.

 
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