Hip-hop album: Outkast

Big Boi & Dre Present, Laface/Arista
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The Independent Culture

If you believed the British music press, you might have gained the impression that Outkast arrived fully formed, fresh and spanking new last spring with the Stankonia album. More observant hip-hop heads, however, will know that Antwan Patton (aka Big Boi) and Andre Banjamin have been flying the flag for the sound of the South since 1994, and are already four albums old (five, if you count the recent Dungeon Family release). Now's as good a time as any to acquaint casual listeners – lured in by the triple salvo of the insane "Bombs Over Baghdad" (now re-named "B.O.B." in a nod to post-September 11th sensitivities), the sublimely sweet "Ms Jackson", and the almost as catchy "So Fresh, So Clean" – with the Outkast back catalogue, and this 16-track hits collection (including three new cuts) is the perfect introduction to the Atlanta duo's Southern-fried, funkadelic oeuvre. The best new-old record you'll hear this year?

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