Monday, November 16, 2009

When Antwan Beat Andre (Part 1): SpottieOttieDopaliscious

There’s an underdog portion of everyone’s heart that urges us to hate Michael Jordan and root for Miguel Cotto. The same impulse wants to insist that Big Boi, Outkast’s technically proficient, extremely likeable swag is on the same level as the scarily insightful, superlative inspiring white person fetish he raps with, but how often is that actually true? As I meander through the Kast’s impeccable catalogue in no particular order, this series aims at analyzing those moments when David rose up and slew the 1985 Georgetown Hoyas.

Our first installment appropriately comes with one of Big Boi’s greatest upsets and most definitive victories. In many ways “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” helps define Aquemini. While notes of otherworldly fun ring through the album start to finish, it’s the seven minute, soulful slow burner that states the growth and completion of a thought the duo began with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. It’s a free form existential meditation on mortality rooted in country grammar for grown folk, maybe no purer expression of the Kast’s aesthetic exists. But most importantly it works and it has rightfully attained its classic status.

One would think the spoken word pretensions and natural poetic inclinations the exercise demands would play directly to Andre’s wheelhouse. In fact, though we may never know for sure, it’s probable Andre himself dreamed up the concept of philosophizing Atlanta night life over an addictive funk riff after taking one too many wheat grass shots. And yet it’s Big Boi who comes away with a decisive W, receiving the honors of naming the track and beating 3 Stacks at his own game, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape.


"As the plot thickens it gives me the dickens
Reminiscent of charles a li'l disco-tech
Nestled in the ghettoes of niggaville, usa
Via atlanta, georgia a li'l spot where
Young men & young women go to experience
They first li'l taste of the nightlife
Me? well I've never been there, well perhaps once
But I was so engulfed in the old "e"
I never made it to the door you speak of hard core
While the dj sweatin' out all the problems
And the troubles of the day
While this fine bow-legged girl fine as all outdoors
Lulls lukewarm lullabies in your left ear
Competing with "set it off," in the right
But it all blends perfectly let the liquor tell it
"hey hey look baby they playin' our song"
And the crowd goes wild as if
Holyfield has just won the fight
But in actuality it's only about 3 a.m.
And three niggas just don' got hauled
Off in the ambulance [sliced up]
Two niggas don' start bustin' [wham wham]
And one nigga don' took his shirt off talkin' 'bout
"now who else wanna fuck with hollywood court?"
It's just my interpretation of the situation"

Andre’s verse is largely impressionistic, he nails the languid, coffee shop tone but he’s too cute and affected for his own good. Conversational flourishes persist throughout the verse and it takes away from his delivery, we take him less seriously to his detriment. The focus is loose and suffers from an attention deficit. 3000 bounces around dropping Seussian alliteration and punctuating the mini story closing the verse with sound effects but he never quite settles in and neither do we.

"When I first met my spottieottiedopalicious angel
I can remember that damn thing like yesterday
The way she moved reminded me of a brown stallion
Horse with skates on smooth like a hot comb
On nappy ass hair
I walked up on her & was almost paralyzed
Her neck was smelling sweeter
Than a plate of yams with extra syrup
Eyes beaming like four karats apiece just blindin' a nigga
Felt like I chiefed a whole o of that presidential
My heart was beating so damn fast
Never knowing this moment would bring another
Life into this world
Funny how shit come together sometimes [ya dig]
One moment you frequent the booty clubs &
The next four years you & somebody's daughter
Raisin' y'all own young'n now that's a beautiful thang
That's if you're on top of your game
And man enough to handle real life situations [that is]
Can't gamble feeding baby on that dope money
Might not always be sufficient but the
United parcel service & the people at the post office
Didn't call you back because you had cloudy piss
So now you back in the trap just that, trapped
Go on and marinate on that for a minute"

Big Boi on the other hand drops a tight, gorgeous masterpiece, one of his all-time best. He compares feminine grace to a hot comb running through kinky hair, the female pheromone to a soul food staple, the intoxication of love to burning through an ounce of piff. The entire first half is at once beautifully poetic and appropriately ghetto in his analogies, truly digging at the essence of this track. For a finale Antwan tackles the challenges of maturation. How amazing it is that a sweaty moment in a club can spark a lifetime together, how hustling’s dicey proposition isn’t a secure enough source of income for a family, how difficult it can be to go straight in a system that isn’t built for you. It’s wildly economic, moving from romanticism to reality in the span of a bar. He presents a universal message and steals the show. Big Boi wins and so do we.

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