Anyone thinking the music's got to take a back seat to rapid-fire rhymes and relentless wordplay in hip-hop should get a strong dose of the new disc by Outkast.
Antwan "Big Boi" Patton and Andre "Dre" Benjamin fill their fourth album with a stunning combination of killer hooks, crisp arrangements and live band workouts. Packing tracks like "Gasoline Dreams" and the furious "B.O.B." ("Bombs Over Baghdad") with Parliament-reminiscent pounding rhythms, the Atlanta pair light the night with their torrid attack. It's hip-hop laced with plenty of funk, occasionally recalling Prince on cuts such as "So Fresh, So Clean" and the erotically-charged "I'll Call Before I Come." It is also frequently filled with smart street sagas like "Ms. Jackson" that blow away most of their contemporaries. The disc includes several cameos, most notably Erykah Badu, who provides a sizzling counterpoint to the duo on the electrically charged scratch-fest "Humble Mumble."