Words Julia Beverly
Greatest Southern Artists of all Time
OUTKAST 5 ESSENTIAL OUTKAST TRACKS
Outkast “Player’s Ball” Southernplayalisticadillacfunkymuzik 1994 This mellow track introduced Atlanta to the Dungeon Family’s unique sound. Outkast “Elevators (Me & You)” ATLiens 1996 Big Boi and Dre’s lyrical chemistry at its finest. Dre explains every starving artists’ dilemma: “I live by the beat like you live check to check / If you don’t move your feet than we don’t eat, so we like neck to neck.” Outkast “Rosa Parks” Aquemini 1998 Rosa Parks didn’t get it, but everyone else did. Outkast “B.O.B.” Stankonia 2000 Outkast spit at warp speed on the strangely titled “Bombs Over Baghdad.” Outkast f/ Killer Mike “The Whole World” Big Boi and Dre present.. 2001 Only Dre and Big Boi could turn a simple piano melody and children’s choir-ish vocals into a true hip-hop classic. Killer Mike lived up to his name, literally murdering this track.
t was the start of somethin’ good When me and my nigga rode the Marta through the hood Just tryin’ to find that hook-up, now every day we looked up At the ceilin’, watchin’ ceilin’ fans go ‘round Tryin’ to catch that feelin’ of instrumental Had my pencil, and plus my paper On their classic 1996 single “Elevators (Me & You),” Andre describes how the story began. One of the greatest duos in hip-hop history, Outkast was formed in the early 90’s when Andre “Andre 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton met at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta’s East Point. Soon after Big Boi graduated (Dre dropped out), Outkast linked up with Atlanta-based production company Organized Noize, who had already created hits for R&B supergroup TLC. Recording in a makeshift basement studio, they dubbed themselves the Dungeon Family. Mix Organized Noize’s phenomenal creativity with Big Boi and Dre’s lyrical abilities and a whole lot of weed, and you’ve got a classic single. Outkast’s “Player’s Ball” became the lead single on Atlanta-based LaFace Records’ Christmas album. Based on the response to the record, LaFace CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid signed Outkast to the label and immediately released their debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. The album shot to the top of the charts and was certified platinum by the end of the year, a phenomenal feat for a brand-new rap group. Outkast’s sound was hard to define. Organized Noize’s unique blend of jazz, soul, rock, and funk music provided the perfect backdrop for Big Boi and Dre’s undeniable chemistry.
Although Southern... featured several other notable songs like the title track and the inspirational “Git Up, Git Out,” there was still room for improvement. While recording for their second album, Andre began to discover himself. Commonly described as the “player” (Big Boi) and the “poet” (Andre), they soon looked the part. Instead 30
OZONE APR 2005
of the typical throwbacks-and-baseball caps, Andre began rocking an odd assortment of turbans, tight leather pants, and other strange fashion arrangements reminiscent of the 60’s. In the same way, Outkast began to experiment with their sound. ATLiens, arguably a classic album, went double platinum. No big-name production, no major features outside of the Dungeon Family. Just raw, funky, soulful hip-hop from those two dope boys in a Cadillac. Outkast knew how to get your head nodding, but the closer you listened, the more you heard. “Outkast is by far my favorite group, period. They said some stuff back in the day that I just caught ten years later,” says David Banner, echoing the sentiments of Outkast fans worldwide. Even though Southern... and ATLiens had ushered in a new era in Southern music, the group hadn’t yet received recognition from mainstream America. That soon changed with the release of their third album. Outkast kept thinking outside the box and expanded their style once again with their 1998 release, Aquemini. The album title (a blend of their astrological signs: Big Boi an Aquarius, and Dre a Gemini) once again reflected their amazing chemistry and willingness to step outside the boundaries. Tracks like “Synthesizer,” featuring George Clinton, exposed their audience to entirely new sounds. The biggest single on Aquemini, “Rosa Parks,” was intended to be a tribute to the Civil Rights pioneer. Unfortunately, the elderly Ms. Parks wasn’t flattered. Offended by certain lyrics (“bulldoggin’ hoes,” “ass,” and “shit’s creek,” perhaps), Rosa Parks sued Outkast for false advertising for using her name as the title. The lawsuit was dismissed in late 1999, but still remains in the Supreme Court on an appeal (a fact which Andre 3000 referenced on Sleepy Brown’s 2004 single “I Can’t Wait”). If Rosa Parks had listened a bit closer to the song, she might have overlooked the curse words and caught one of Andre 3000’s most
ingenious verses: I met a gypsy and she hipped me to some life game To stimulate and active the left and right brain She said, “Baby boy, you only funky as your last cut, Focus on the past and your ass’ll be a haswhat” I try to just throw it at you, determine your own adventure (Andre) Got to her station, here’s my destination She got off the bus, the conversation lingered in my head for hours Heeding their own advice, the group continued to keep it funky. Outkast signed a licensing deal for Outkast Clothing Company and formed their own label, Aquemini Records. Over the years, they’ve helped establish the careers of other Dungeon Family-affiliated artists like the Goodie Mob, Killer Mike, and Sleepy Brown. Outkast released Stankonia in late 2000, and the album sold over three million copies thanks to the massive hits “B.O.B.” and “Ms. Jackson.” A year later they released Big Boi and Dre presents... a “greatest hits” album which also contained the classic single “The Whole World,” featuring Killer Mike. Amidst rumors of a breakup, Andre 3000 and Big Boi released a double CD in 2003, Speakerboxx/ The Love Below. Andre’s half was pure musical genius, but a little too bizarre for some hiphop heads. Singles like “Hey Ya” were staples on rock and Top 40 radio stations across the country. Although the album was enormously successful (over nine million copies sold), it hasn’t yet been embraced by diehard Outkast fans. Maybe in ten years, we’ll get it. Perhaps Andre 3000 said it best at the end of his verse on “Rosa Parks”: When the record player get to skippin’ and slowin’ down All y’all can say is, “Them niggas earned they crown.”
Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005