Even compared to their already excellent and forward-looking catalog, OutKast's sprawling third album, Aquemini, was a stroke of brilliance. The chilled-out space-funk of ATLiens had already thrown some fans for a loop, and Aquemini made it clear that its predecessor was no detour, but a stepping stone for even greater ambitions. Some of ATLiens' ethereal futurism is still present, but more often Aquemini plants its feet on the ground for a surprisingly down-home flavor. The music draws from a vastly eclectic palette of sources, and the live instrumentation is fuller-sounding than ATLiens. Most importantly, producers Organized Noize imbue their tracks with a Southern earthiness and simultaneous spirituality that come across regardless of what Dre and Big Boi are rapping about. Not that they shy away from rougher subject matter, but their perspective is grounded and responsible, intentionally avoiding hardcore cliches. Their distinctive vocal deliveries are now fully mature, with a recognizably Southern rhythmic bounce, but loads more technique than their territorial peers. Those flows grace some of the richest and most inventive hip-hop tracks of the decade.
1. Hold on, Be Strong
2. Return of the "G"
3. Rosa Parks
4. Skew It on the Bar-B - Outkast, Raekwon
6. Synthesizer - George Clinton, Outkast
8. West Savannah
9. Art of Storytellin', Pt. 1
10. Art of Storytellin', Pt. 2
13. Y'All Scared - Big Gipp, Khujo, Outkast, T-Mo
15. Liberation - C-Lo, , Outkast