La Face Records

The funky duo of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, better known in this universe as Outkast, have sent another twisted dispatch from the kingdom of Atlanta. Stankonia is a funky, psychedelic ride from straight up beats and mad rhymes all the way to the land of Funkadelic-style psychedelia. This is hip-hop soul, or vice-versa. This is rock. This is funk. This can only be called stanky.

And stanky is an oh-so appropriate description, as you can practically smell the pot smoke wafting out of the jewel case. From the loony intro, aptly named "Intro", through the last track, "Stankonia (Stanklove)", this CD proves to be fertile headphone ground for those with a love of song and studio craft (and the slightly sonically twisted). The lyrical range of Stankonia is impressive as well, comfortably shifting from gangsta strut to political wit in the blink of a red eye.

Reversing the raid of rockers on hip-hop, like the Beastie Boys or more recently Mr. Durst and his less-than-melodic crew, here comes Andre and Big Boi in an LTD swiping the classic "head riff" from rock's architecture. By incorporating some of the idiosyncrasies of rock, Outkast's hip-hop filters itself through Prince and Funkadelic. Heralded by some critics as the advent of "black rock" (though, Hendrix might do a few post mortem flip flops over that one), Stankonia is a creative masterpiece that ends up being much more than just the sum of its parts.-Rob Hulsman

Click Here To Buy This CD

Butch Rice
Acoustic Pop
ear-X-tacy Records

Mellow sounds loom heavy in the air with light acoustic rhythms as Butch Rice takes to the guitar on his new album Acoustic Pop.

Rice brings back the simplicity of a guitar and clear vocals with love ballads and tales of love gone dry. The simplicity behind the first track, "Why Won't This Heart?", is phenomenal. Charmed by tuneful verse and acoustic pureness, the track envelops the calming and masterful voice of one Butch Rice and opens a door to soothing vocals and beats. Rice strums the guitar in smooth transitions, making for a soulful blend of classic guitar and toned down pop (hence the album name).

"I Don't Care" details the uncertainty of life and love. The lyrics hold a certain truth and anyone who has felt like they were at the bottom of the barrel can relate to them. The mellowness of the words allows Rice's voice to shine through in this track and creates the perfect mood music for a night of relaxation or even bottle-tipping.

ear X-tacy recording artist Butch Rice has been acclaimed by critics across the country for his music and rightfully so. Though the album does seem to be a straight forward format of tempos and acoustics, the depth behind the music makes it prevail as a great independent acoustic album filled with passion and revived musical purity. Rice's efforts on Acoustic Pop deserve to be heard by young and old alike as they get the true best of both worlds - classic music mixed with the adapted pop lyrics of today.-Jason Headrick

It Was All A Dream
Bad Boy Records

Writing a review about Dream's premiere CD is not unlike a Robert Frost poem; there are two paths to take. The first one is the easy road, lamenting their total and complete lack of talent, their marginal harmonies, sub-Doctor beats, their little elf feet planted right in the middle of the footsteps trod by such visionaries as the Spice Girls, never varying a step. And on the other path, a little tougher, is to make fun of their looks. They are kind of homely, although they keep baring their midriffs in order to entice; but it's clear that "nose job" tops the must-buy list of most of the Dream-sicles. While their music is distressingly lame, mind-bogglingly horrific is their pretension, as every few songs are separated by a spoken interlude. Examine the Milton-esque poetry of the Intro: "Dream. It was all a dream. I can't believe this is happening. Oooh. Dream. Oooooh." Then, a Dream role call: "Holly. Ashley. Melissa. Diana." As if the names weren't indicting enough, they commit the supremely egotistical sin of singing a song with their name in it, "In My Dreams." And it sucks. If you can sit through that, I defy you to make it through Interlude #2, where the girls evidence their scripted personalities (Ashley's the tough, bitchy one for those keeping score) by various messages on their friend Jordan's answering machine.

Interlude #3 has the Dream-sicles thanking Jesus personally for their quasi-attractiveness and unwarranted opportunity, for an entire track. Hearing these pseudo-lovelies heap sugar-y praise on their "beautiful Jesus Christ" may cause a rash, especially when Jesus had nothing to do with their recording contract; that honor goes to His Messenger on Earth, Sean "Puffy" Combs.

But only divine intervention can account for the fact that Dream is already a hit; a recent Total Request Live again exposed the cultural void of the general populace when Dream made #5. While Jesus may love Dream, he clearly hates the rest of us. Maybe it's just one of those tests, like God gave Job. And if we endure it, in a few months no one will remember Dream except the music store owners who have to dump their surplus into the bargain bin, and we can shake our heads, clear the dust from our eyes, and mutter, "It was all a dream..."-Rob Bricken

Click Here To Buy This CD