Donít judge this album by its cover, which looks like it was designed using Paint Shop Pro for Windows 95.

Not a minute in, the listenerís already immersed in exotic whistling, wah guitar, Troutman talkbox and Dr. Dre-style Steinway punches.

Then Big Boiís first words on his astounding debut solo album: ďDamn, that wasnít nothing but the intro.Ē Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty: Big Boi: Musici

The high degree of musical variety and ampleness on Chico Dusty canít be overstated.

Outkastís straight man takes the listener on a fantastic voyage through 23rd-century cosmic funk, militant opera, synth-tracked gospel, brass arrangements, salsa interludes, indelible deep-fried hooks and, on Tangerine, a psych guitar line awash in congos and shakers for T.I. to talk greasy over.

Big Boiís lyrically on point, too, balancing cavalier wit and grown-man profundity that puts this album among Outkastís best. Your move, 3000.

Jason Richards