Two for the Future

To hip-hop's OutKast and Black Eyed Peas, the glass is half full.

Perhaps, but the band doesn't yet have a distinctive style to call its own--hence the frequent comparisons to Native Tongues acts. But Taboo isn't worried. "It's just like when ketchup was first made, and then some other company came out with their brand of ketchup; at first people probably thought they were exactly the same, but then they realized that they tasted different. That's what we're going through. Right now we're a new group, and people have to understand our chemistry, because there's a different twist to it. And when they do, some other new group will come around and they'll say, 'You guys have that Black Eyed Peas feel.'"

The Peas have a ways to go before this scenario comes to pass: Although they received positive notices for their appearances on this year's Smokin' Grooves tour, Front's sales have neither gone through the roof nor threatened to bump against it.

But the news is better for OutKast. Aquemini opened in the Billboard Top Ten and moved over half a million units before the end of its first month in release. Dre credits this fast start to the balance he and Big Boi strike. "We get two very different types of people with two totally different lifestyles who get together to listen to the same album...As long as the beat is grooving and the groups are saying something that's hip, they'll be like, 'I guess that'll work for me.' And then you've got another type of person who likes to get inside the music and get inside the mind of the people who make the music--really feel it. And that's another type of person we've got to reach.

"There are good sides and bad sides to everything," he goes on. "And even though a lot of what's happening today isn't that good, we've got to talk about it anyway. But once you know the truth, you have to look at where we can go from there. And that's what we're about."

The same can be said of Black Eyed Peas; after all, the last song on their disc is called "Positivity." But Taboo is under no illusion that this outlook will put purveyors of the darker side of hip-hop out of business for good. "It's going to change, regardless," he notes. "It's a cycle. There'll be positive groups for a while, and then there'll be some new group that'll come along and say, 'Fuck all this positive shit. I'm trying to take things back to the way they were back in '94.' And people who aren't doing shit with their lives will have something to listen to again."

OutKast, with Black Eyed Peas and Melky Sadek. 8 p.m. Friday, November 20, Music Hall at Lodo, 1902 Blake Street, $20, 303-830-8497.

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