The Love Below
Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not because of love, romance, or any capitalist bullshit or advertising propaganda of little white babies with small ass wings, but because of the candy! I also love this holiday because it gives me the opportunity to ruminate on my favorite album of all time, “The Love Below” by Outkast.
Originally released along with “Speakerboxx” in 2003, it is considered to be Andre 3000’s seminal work. Every year on Valentine’s Day, I write a short Facebook post about why this album has a song for every type of relationship. This year, I’ve decided to expand on my short posts and drop some jewels for the happy and/or lonely lover in you. Note: I’m not going to talk about every song on the album, but I will talk about most of them. Also, this is just my interpretation of the situation, and I welcome any and all discussion on this.
Here we go:
1. The Humble Candidate – “God – Interlude”: I started with this interlude because it sets the tone for the entire album. It’s about coming to that point in your life where you decide that you’re ready for a relationship. It’s about having an honest conversation with yourself and realizing that you’re not going to end up with someone perfect, because you’re not perfect. You’ve made mistakes, but you’ve learned from them. You’ve realized that a person's physical appearance doesn't matter as much anymore, you just want someone to roll with as you attempt to make it through this thing called life. Additionally, Andre acknowledges that his God is a woman (which is factually correct. Fight me).
2. The Disbeliever – “Happy Valentine’s Day”: We all have that one friend that likes to pretend that they have an icebox where their heart used to be and that they don’t believe in love. They’re clearly full of shit, and everyone knows it except them. In this song, Andre ruminates on how people can believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and a damn Groundhog that can predict the weather, but they choose not to believe in love. LIES. You can’t outrun love, and honestly, the more you protest, the quicker you will succumb to it. “Ain’t you supposed to be some kind of player or something? Well keep on running player, cause I got on my good shoes.” Play this song for your friend who refuses to save any of his girls’ numbers in his phone because he feels like it's too much. You're only fooling yourself partner. Stay woke.
3. The One Night Stand – “Spread” and “Where Are My Panties?- Interlude”: Have you ever had sex so good that you wanted to get up and cook your partner pancakes, bacon, eggs, and biscuits from scratch in the morning? And that’s only after you’ve laid in the bed for a while and let them caress your body to the point that you end up having a second or third round? This is the original “When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster.” In the subsequent interlude, Andre’s partner can’t believe what she’s done the night before and has anxiety about potentially being labeled a ho. Meanwhile, Andre doesn’t even care about that. He’s still thinking about last night and struggling to separate love from lust. As someone who’s been there before, this is too real, and I’m having flashbacks just thinking about it.
4. The One – “The Prototype”: No words needed. You already know. My future partner better be ready to see me coming down the aisle to this song. The best part of this song is that it focuses on enjoying the act of falling in love. Not putting pressure on the relationship and just living in the moment. And if they happen to break up, we have to just accept it for what it is. There’s nothing realer than that.
5. The Vixen – “She Lives in My Lap”: Hands down, my favorite song on the entire album. This song, which features Rosario Dawson, is about the woman who has her man completely twisted up. He doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down. This is the original “Hotline Bling” because Rosario is wearing less and going out more and Andre is confused about why she’s not falling for his usual game. She’s not checking for him all the time, doesn’t get upset with him, and doesn’t cry when he forgets to call her. Honestly, she’s running game on him. She tells him that he’s the only one, yet she’s always out with her friends and never answers her phone when he calls. At this point, he doesn’t know whether to pull out all the stops to keep her or if he should just get rid of her. He’s as lost as a ball in tall weeds. All he knows is that when he’s with her, she turns him out. He’ll have to get the courage to sort out the rest of his emotions one day.
6. The Situationship – “Hey Ya”: Honestly, ya’ll met on Tinder and ya’ll are just trying to see what happens next. It’s the beginning of a great homie-lover-friend situation. Neither one of you have any idea what it means to be in a relationship, and it’s too early to tell whether or not you’re ready to be with another person yet. However, what you do know is that the sex is good, and as of right now, ya’ll are the only person that each other has decided to see. There are no real feelings right now, and that’s good because you don’t know if you’ll even like this person outside of the bedroom. Plus, have you seen how many people who are in unhappy relationships right now? Your little arrangement is the perfect way to go! Clearly, you’re winning at this whole relationship thing!
7. The Bad and Too Boujee One – “Roses”: This song is an anthem (and one of the greatest music videos of all time). No explanation needed.
8. The Ride or Die – “Good Day, Good Sir – Interlude” and “Behold a Lady”: This song is all about the one who will have your back no matter what. The one that supports you when your knees buckle and pushes you to be a better person. For those who are in relationships, this is your significant other, or at least it should be. However, for those who aren’t in relationships, it’s what we’re looking for in our lives. Where are the good ones? What club do they hang out at? Let me know. In the end, Andre reminds us that when we find a good one, we should hold on to them tightly, because we deserve to be loved and show love in return.
9. The May/December Lover – “Pink & Blue”: The song starts with Aaliyah’s “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” because it’s all about Andre dating a woman who is significantly older than him. She’s teaching him some new things while he’s teaching her that her age shouldn’t stop her from living her best life. Her age and looks don’t matter, because in fact, he admires her for the grace and sophistication that comes with her age. Furthermore, he alludes to the fact that she’s dropping some knowledge on him in the bedroom so….yeah. Go 'head Ms. Lady!
10. The Kryptonite – “Dracula’s Wedding”: Andre is scared that he may have met his match. He’s not scared of a lot of things, but he’s afraid of this woman, played by Kelis. She’s his equal. She matches him step for step and pound for pound. He’s never had this before, and he surely wasn’t expecting her. Sure, he may have said that he wanted all of these things in one woman, but he didn’t expect her to show up! Now, she’s in his face and he knows that despite his fear, he can’t let her get away. He has no choice but to marry this one. Plus, she makes good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What more do you want?!
11. The Pretender – “Take Off Your Cool”: Norah Jones and Andre 3000 put their entire foot in this song. The lyrics and the guitar chords are fairly simple, but the song is so deep. We all have that one person that we can see right through. You can tell when something’s wrong just by looking at them or hearing one word out of their mouth. They know that they don’t have to pretend with you, but when somebody has been holding up a façade for so long, you have to remind them to take it off. It’s not necessary here. Leave the bullshit at the door. Let me just see you.
12. Solo Dolo – “Vibrate”: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gon' love somebody else? This song is all about self-love. From the surface, it can seem that Andre is talking about masturbation, which he is, but it's also about loving yourself. You can’t look for love and self-validation in others. Your friends may not always be there when you need them, but you know who will? Yourself. Sometimes, you have to be your own anchor and hold yourself down. Accept who you are, accept responsibility for your actions, and accept that you control your own destiny. At the end of the day, you are enough. So Vibrate. Vibrate higher!
P.S. Fun fact: "She Lives in My Lap" and "Vibrate" are the same song with the same beat just in reverse. Also, since the double album was originally supposed to serve as the soundtrack for their hit movie "Idlewild," most people think that "The Love Below" is Andre's long, lost, dead lover, and the "Speakerboxx" is her casket. There's levels to this shit ya'll!