Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Essay written by:  WISDOM

     There is something beautiful, sexy, mysterious, futuristic, and dope about "Prototype", the Andre 3000 concoction that I've been in love with since it was unveiled.  As the seventh track on Andre's portion of the dual album Speakerboxx/The Love Below, it instantly, and continually, touched on several emotions.  I love the lush instrumentation, especially the guitar, sounding like Ernie Isley being channeled in the studio.  It's a slightly atmospheric cut, where the listener feels like he or she is on a journey of sorts with Andre Benjamin, a journey that may never end.  No problem with that, in my not so humble opinion, because I've been on the "Prototype" journey for the past six years since the 2004 release of the diamond-selling Speakerboxx/The Love Below.

     The other part of the "Prototype" equation is the vocal performance of Mr. Benjamin himself.  He is not the best vocalist, in the classical, Luther Vandross sense, but he is an absolute genius (and I am not just throwing that term around loosely) when it comes to emoting on record to complement a track.  His vocals, to the unknowing, may sound amateurish or undeveloped.  To me, that is the beauty of Andre 3000 on "Prototype".  He allows the words and phrasing to paint the aural picture, instead of using vocal overexposure.  Here is the simple, poignant way Andre painted that picture in Verse 1: 

                          "Today must be my lucky day
                     Baby, you are the prototype
                     Do something outta the ordinary
                     Like catch a matinee
                     Baby, you are the prototype..."

     He didn't have to resort to overzealous poetry in order to convey his message about the lady he is envisioning.  He didn't try to construct the most abstract artistry ever.  What he did do was marry the musical soundbed with the lyrical and vocal musings, with an end result one of the best songs in his career.  It's definitely no secret that I am one of the biggest fans of OutKast;  I'm happy that I was able to see and experience an artist at his best (along with often slept-on partner Big Boi).  "Prototype" is a relatively new song, but it has already been covered by a few artists, such as Raheem Devaughn and Jesse Boykins III, both of which added a nice touch to an almost untouchable song.

                       " I think I'm in love, again..."

     The chorus is succinct, yet very broad in scope.  Andre Benjamin is not only singing about being in love (again), but doing so in such a way where he sounds almost surprised by the notion that this "Prototype" could put him in that ATLien state of mind.  I believe that most, if not all, can identify with this song.  At one point or another in your life, you've been captivated and mesmerized by someone, be it because of intellect, physical attraction, personality, sense of humor, or any combination of those qualities.  Revisiting "Prototype" gave me the chance to appreciate the sheer artistic nature of Andre 3000, who along with OutKast partner Big Boi, have shaped hip hop, and music in general, for years to come.  Now enjoy the video!

      by Andre 3000 (The Love Below, 2004) 

Prototype_ Outkast the love below
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