Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is Outkast's fifth studio album that was released on September 23, 2003 by LaFace Records & Arista Records.
The album is a double album of solo albums from each of the members: "Speakerboxx" is Big Boi's solo album and "The Love Below" is André 3000's solo album.
- Intro 1:29
- GhettoMusick 3:56
- Unhappy 3:19
- Bowtie 3:56
- The Way You Move 3:54
- The Rooster 3:57
- Bust 3:08
- War 2:43
- Church 3:27
- Bamboo (Interlude) 2:09
- Tomb Of The Boom 4:46
- E-Mac (Interlude) 0:24
- Knowing 3:32
- Flip Flop Rock 4:35
- Interlude 1:15
- Reset 4:35
- D-Boi (Interlude) 0:40
- Last Call 3:57
- Bowtie (Postlude) 0:35
The Love Below
- The Love Below (Intro) 1:27
- Love Hater 2:49
- God (Interlude) 2:20
- Happy Valentine's Day 5:23
- Spread 3:51
- Where Are My Panties? 1:54
- Prototype 5:26
- She Lives In My Lap 4:27
- Hey Ya! 3:55
- Roses 6:09
- Good Day, Good Sir 1:24
- Behold A Lady 4:37
- Pink & Blue 5:04
- Love In War 3:25
- She's Alive 4:06
- Dracula's Wedding 2:32
- My Favorite Things 5:14
- Take Off Your Cool 2:38
- Vibrate 6:39
- A Life In The Day Of Benjamin André (Incomplete) 5:11
Following the release of Outkast's 2000 album, "Stankonia", André 3000 felt urged to do something different from his previous projects and moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue an acting career.
However, he was relatively unsuccessful, obtaining a minor role in the 2003 film, "Hollywood Homicide" and a one-episode appearance in the drama series "The Shield." He returned to music and recorded a solo album that was different from the material he had recorded as part of Outkast.
The output was a blend of pop, jazz and funk with live instruments and singing instead of rapping. When writing songs, André 3000 used a micro cassette recorder in order to "record melodic ideas and lyrics, then build the melody around the lyrics".
The recording of "The Love Below" began at André 3000's Los Angeles home, using Pro Tools software in addition to a drum machine, keyboards and various synthesizers.
He enjoyed the atmosphere of recording at home instead of a studio, saying to XXL, "it didn't start in the studio because if you have a bunch of people around, they're coming from the party and I'm in there singing falsetto ... those vibes didn't match."
His initial sessions were hampered by his inexperience with Pro Tools and, unaware how to edit his recordings, he opted to record songs such as "Pink & Blue" in their entirety.
Other gear used included an Avalon VT737 SP and AD2055 EQ and AD2044 compressors for his vocals. After creating five songs, he informed Big Boi of the solo project he had been working on.
Big Boi had already recorded some songs when André 3000 had contacted him, but after their conversation he decided his next project would be "Speakerboxxx."
Describing his approach in the studio, Big Boi later commented to XXL, "the idea was just to keep it funky, keep it jamming, it's always bass-heavy. And lyricism, it's all about lyrics, taking pride in your pen and your pad."
His favorite song to record was "Unhappy". He spent several days working on "Unhappy"'s hook before driving to his mother's home and playing the song in her driveway, to which she responded enthusiastically.
At some point in the recording, the project moved to OutKast's Stankonia Studios in downtown Atlanta, which had been used to record OutKast's previous release and namesake.
John Frye, the studio manager and an engineer, would later recognise that much of the media attention surrounding the album's recording was concerned with André 3000 and Big Boi's working relationship and why they had chosen to record separately.
He concedes that both enjoyed working solo and were doing so more frequently, but they continued to share and critique each other's music.
John Frye also describes how the format of the projects changed rapidly. Initially intended as two separate solo releases, they decided to merge their work and create a soundtrack album as André 3000 had initially intended.
The duo then began preparing to work on a motion picture, but they reconsidered and compromised by interpolating background noise into songs, such as the slamming of car doors and footsteps.
They eventually settled on releasing a double album. Frye noted the end of the recording sessions as particularly stressful for André 3000, who he described as drained from working at four studios simultaneously.
In total, an estimated 120 songs were recorded for "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below."
"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" is a two-disc set that features thirty-nine tracks, including several interludes and a postlude.
It is a concept album with the intention of each disc delivering each member's individual perspective and sound.
"The Love Below" is substantially longer than Big Boi's "Speakerboxxx", clocking in at almost 78 minutes, compared to 56 minutes for "Speakerboxxx".
Featured guests on Speakerboxxx include Sleepy Brown, Jazze Pha, Jay Z, CeeLo Green, Killer Mike, Goodie Mob, Lil Jon and Ludacris.
The guests on "The Love Below" include Rosario Dawson, Norah Jones, Kelis, and Fonzworth Bentley. Speakerboxxx is built on Southern hip hop.
"Speakerboxxx" demonstrated more social awareness than its counterpart, with themes of family, philosophy, religion, politics and "a wider emotional terrain ... from melancholy to outrage to expression."
In contrast, "The Love Below" was identified as far more musically experimental. Its sound was described as "jazzy pop-funk" comparable to the music of Prince.
The disc's abounding theme is love, examining the emotions one experiences when falling in love and loving oneself.
Roni Sarig suggests that André 3000's split with neo soul singer Erykah Badu had influenced much of the lyrical content on the album, which he sees as concerned with the search for true love.
"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling more than 510,000 copies during its first week. It became the second-biggest debut for a double album during the Soundscan-era (which began in 1991).
The album sold 235,000 copies in its second week, holding its position atop the Billboard chart. It spent the next three weeks in the top 5 before returning to the top spot for one more week.
The Ssles remained strong, and the album would spend another four weeks at #1 between January and February 2004.
"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" amassed a total of seven weeks at #1, 24 weeks in the Top 10, and 56 weeks on the Billboard 200.
The album has been certified diamond and 11 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping more than 11 million units (in this case, 5.5 million double album sets, which are double-counted by the RIAA).
"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" was met with widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 91, based on 26 reviews.
Reviewing for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine called both discs "visionary, imaginative listens, providing some of the best music of 2003, regardless of genre".
Will Hermes wrote in Entertainment Weekly that the album's "ambition flies so far beyond that of anyone doing rap right now (or pop, or rock, or R&B)".
Blender magazine's Kris Ex felt that it "holds an explosion of creativity that couldn't have been contained in just one LP".
The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey described both discs as "sublime ... hip-hop's Sign o' the Times or The White Album: a career-defining masterpiece of breathtaking ambition".
According to Andy Gill of The Independent, the album set "a new benchmark not just for hip hop, but for pop in general".
Stylus Magazine's Nick Southall called it "a series of spectacular moments and memorable events".
NME magazine's John Mulvey described its two discs as "two Technicolor explosions of creativity that people will be exploring, analysing and partying to for years".
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine wrote that it is "greater than the sum of its parts, and this kind of expertly crafted pop and deftly executed funk rarely happen at the same time—not since Stankonia, at least."
Less enthusiastic were Rolling Stone magazine's Jon Caramanica, particularly about André 3000 expressing his "right to be peculiar in a hip-hop context."
Pitchfork's Brent DiCrescenzo, who said The Love Below does not sustain "consistent brilliance and emotional complexity throughout" like Speakerboxxx.
In The Village Voice, Robert Christgau said the double album could have been "the classic P-Funk rip it ain't quite" had Speakerboxxx alone been issued with "Roses", "Spread", "Hey Ya!", and "an oddity of [André 3000's] choosing". He nonetheless commended what he described as "commercial ebullience, creative confidence, and wretched excess, blessed excess, impressive excess".
In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Roni Sarig wrote that, "for sheer breadth, ambition, and musical vision, there's little doubt Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is a classic."