“Who said that? WHO SAID THAT? You Speakerboxxx guys get out of here no Speakerboxxxing! I hate Speakerboxxes.”
“THE LOVE BELOW!!!”
“And certainly no Love Below!”
“AHHH HELL NOOO!”
– Roses, Outkast
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is an album by Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast released on the week of my eighth birthday in 2003. Unfortunately I didn’t get it as a gift and despite it going platinum and being the only hip-hop album (so far) to win a grammy for album of the year, I wouldn’t hear it until a few years later, in 2006 when Outkast’s next album Idlewild was released. At this point I was still completely oblivious to Outkast but their single Morris Brown changed that. It wasn’t CDs or TV that put me on to it but it was a company that had been set up the year before, YouTube.
At this point in my life I had Gorillaz and Gnarles Barkley on repeat. Naturally YouTube’s algorithm sent me on the way to more exciting things. One of those videos was Morris Brown and this was my gateway into the world of Outkast. Through this surreal video I then discovered the videos from previous albums and the first I came across were those from Speakerboxx / The Love Below.
Five videos were released for this album, my favourite being Roses and it was probably the first music video I had seen that was more focused on showcasing a narrative and other songs from the album other than just a video that went along for the duration of the song. The video opens with someone looking through their high school yearbook to the opening song from Andre 3000’s part of the album, The Love Below (Intro). The video then zooms into the yearbook on the main character of the song and video, Caroline, getting ready in the girls toilets. Another song from the album, Happy Valentine’s Day, begins to play as it cues to Big Boi and his Speakerboxxx squad. Big Boi receives a note that he sent to Caroline where in response to him asking her to be his valentine, she misses both yes and no and creates a new box, maybe. Caroline and her friends then walk towards the theatre as Big boi and the crew bounce and now the Intro to Speakerboxxx cuts in as the soundtrack.
So within the first minute we got three tracks from the album being effectively used as the soundtrack to this video. Furthermore we also have all the sound from the scenes coming through, from Big Boi scrunching up the note, talking with his crew and the cars driving away to the flushing of a toilet in the girls room and the rowdy sound of the students. The crowd settles and the music cuts as the piano playing teacher tells off everyone in the hall and the main performance begins.
So now we have Roses and its performance by Andre 3000’s group, The Love Below. Dressed in Love Below cardigans and converses, the group begin their dance with Andre singing directly to Caroline. The song basically puts her down in front of the whole school, saying that although she’s beautiful there isn’t much else to her, comparing her beauty to a rose and her personality to shit. For me the best part of this whole video is the amazing choreography by Keith Young, who has a huge portfolio of films, tv shows, commercials, tours, award shows and music videos. I think that the dance to Roses is so good because it’s simple, the Love Below are hilarious and you can see them making mistakes and hitting each other for it as if it is a bunch of high school students trying to impress their classmates. While this is all going on, Big Boi is rudely making his way to the school and announces his crew in the hall. The music cuts and we get a bit of dialogue making Roses feel more like a film and not a music video. Of course this ends in a massive Big Boi has his bars for Caroline and the fight gets more intense, with the principal now joining in.
Despite the song putting down girls who look good but have awful personalities, I think the video was trying to show that guys are idiots and would still go to great lengths to fight over them. At its essence it’s a Valentine’s Day struggle between the leaders of two groups over a girl that they’re both attracted to but neither of them really like. As a result everyone gets the crap beaten out of them except Caroline and the guy who runs off with her.
The Way You Move had Big Boi and Sleepy Brown arriving in a garage full of women including a manager with a “big time attitude” and as she walks a away Brown says “I like the way she moves.” Cue music video in the garage with Big Boi and the manager (with even less clothes than before) as well as Fonzley Benthworth, from the Roses video and also on the track Good Day, Good Sir, dancing and cleaning until the camera zooms in on Big Boi’s bling, enters into some Great Gatsby looking building and Fonzley floats down with an umbrella into a room packed with people dancing. It goes from place to place with people dancing and then eventually back to the beginning in the same scene with Brown saying “I like the way she moves.” All of these videos helped me engage with Outkast and exposed me to more and more of their music.
Also, didn’t even realise there was a video for Prototype until I did this post, love the throwback to an ATLiens kind of vibe in the visuals for one of the many underrated tracks from the album.