Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

OutKast: Idlewild [LaFace, 2006]
In a poetic biz snafu, the not-actually-a-soundtrack that got mixed reviews in periodicals with July deadlines was substantially revised for its Aug. 22 release. But due to the usual dumb critical systole-diastole plus the premature burial of Idlewild-the-movie, the backlash didn't stop there. Me, I liked it fine before catching the near-empty late show where I fell in love. Flick's a sepia-tone "Moulin Rouge" that makes just as much hash of musical historicity--Big Boi the bootlegger's nephew raps with a territory band, Andre the mortician's son ivory-tickles like he's studied Debussy and dreamed Monk. Record's a joyous mishmash, so light-spirited that rumors of OutKast's demise are irrelevant regardless of accuracy, which nobody can gauge anyway. The endless grindcore finale that bloats proceedings to 79 minutes is their stupidest track ever, and occasionally a forgettable song sets down and rests awhile. But from the mainstream hip-hop Big Boi articulates with so much muscle to the retro swing Andre sings just fine, they sound happy to parade their mastery. Also on parade: Janelle MonŠe. A