OutKast is back, finally. Last Tuesday the Dirty South duo unleashed Idlewild, an album to accompany the new film, set in the Prohibition era, that’s coming out Aug. 25. The release finds the pair’s house divided — another split disc of Big Boi and Andre 3000 tracks — and rarely do the two Atlanta natives meet on tape. The only track on which the two rap together is “Mighty O,” not exactly a triumphant return. The song feels cumbersome, a mimicry of the Cab Calloway classic “Minnie the Moocher.” Big Boi shines on his funky marching-band ode, which features a syrupy chorus by Sleepy Brown and shimmering backing vocals by Scar. Dre wears well the film’s persona of Percival, the Jazz Era piano man, on such tunes as “PJ & Rooster,” transporting the listener straight to a juke joint equipped with a horn section, kick drum, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” harmonies, and clunky stride piano. Whereas Big Boi never steps outside his fluid rhymes, Dre dabbles, hitting (“Idlewild Blue”) and missing (“Hollywood Divorce”). Don’t look for cohesion here. Idlewild is an occasionally awkward, occasionally thrilling union of hip-hop and 1920s jazz; it’s no ATLiens, but the two dope boys in a Cadillac stopped rolling together on albums in 2000. What’s left is a sprawling album that makes up in ambition what it lacks in consistency.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and when the mistreated woman is Beyoncé, well, watch out. “Ring the Alarm,” Ms. Destiny’s Child’s second single from her all-grown-up release B’Day, set to drop Sept. 5, puts somebody in the hot seat. Kicking off with whirling sirens and a flood of pulsating red lights, the video finds Beyoncé unleashing a tirade at a faceless wrongdoer, not holding much back — including her hair (ravaged) and her limbs (thrashing). The ultimatum is apparently one of necessity and the desperation is clear as Beyoncé coos her way through a tear-filled breakdown, asking, “How can you look at me/and not see all the things I kept only just for you?” “Deja Vu,” the new album’s Jay-Z-and-Beyoncé duet, doesn’t live up to the heat the couple produced with hit single “Crazy in Love,” but for those who want fire, Beyoncé brings it.
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