On Sept. 23, 2003, OutKast dropped the incredible, sprawling foray into their brand of other-worldly musicality, Speakerboxx/The Below.
Speakerboxxx was Big Boi's high-energy, groove-heavy entry, while The Love Below was Andre 3000's opportunity to showcase his expansive musicality, which leaned heavily into his adoration for Prince.
“The Love Below was originally supposed to be a solo album,” Andre explained to Rolling Stone in 2004. “At the last minute, management and the record company said it wasn’t a good time to do that, so Big Boi did Speakerboxxx. But I was taking so long to finish The Love Below that he wanted to release that as a solo album. A lot of people don’t know the album almost wasn’t made…”
Good thing it was. One of the most anticipated albums of its era, the album went to No. 1, and was certified diamond with 10 million copies sold by December. It also won Album of the Year at the 2004 Grammys, a feat practically unheard of, and one that hasn't happened since.
Both artists were exploring their artistry in their own way and it's apparent throughout the entirety of the project, which still heavily resonates nearly two decades after its release. Its success is stamped by standout singles that have yet to fade from radio rotation— Big's horn-heavy two-step ditty "I Like The Way You Move" with Sleepy Brown, and Dre's frantically danceable "Hey Ya!".
Produced mostly by Big, Dre and Mr. DJ (Earthtone III), save for a few tracks (Organized Noize was notably absent from this project), the album is rich and a firm representation of where they both were musically and mentally at the time of its release, and includes standout gems like "She Lives In My Lap," "The Prototype," and "Ghetto Musick."
“I could be getting one beat from Pharrell, another from someone else,” Big told Rolling Stone. “It’s like picking out a wardrobe. ‘I want a Versace hat, Gucci pants, some Louis Vuitton shoes.’ But I don’t want that. I want my own style. You can ask Dré: From day one, I thought the shit on this record was jamming. Management was getting panicky. They thought the singles were too left. I said, ‘Let’s hold our dicks on this one.’ Like, ‘Don’t budge.' We ain’t budging.”
Standing solidly in their musical intention as artists, Speakerboxx/The Love Below is an important entry into OutKast's impeccable discography.