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Outkast | Features

The Outkast SaveOurSoul artist of the Month january 2002


Big Boi and Dre

Outkast, one member of which is a self-described player and the other a poet, is an anomaly in popular music. Innovative, street-savvy rappers, the duo's appeal cuts across all borders, even within the feudalistic, highly competitive world of hip-hop. Dre and Big Boi's spectacular success as artists not only lies in their ability to pioneer new sounds with each recording, but in accepting their different personalities and building on their common interests a shared love of Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown, and Jimi Hendrix.

OutkastThe team's friendship goes back to Atlanta in the early '90s, where they both attended Tri-Cities High School in the East Point area. A single child, Andre Benjamin lived with his mother for most of his early life, eventually moving in with his father at 15. In contrast, Antwan Patton lived with several brothers and sisters in Savannah before moving to Atlanta as a teenager. At Tri-Cities High School, the two quickly connected. "When everyone was wearing Starter pants, we were wearing flower print shorts. We were just a tad bit different," Benjamin told Details magazine.

Though their paths momentarily diverged Benjamin dropped out of high school during the 10th grade, while Patton received his diploma they continued to rap together, eventually starting a group called 2 Shades Deep. While pursuing their musical ventures, the two did what most teenagers do working odd jobs, partying, and running the streets. "I do remember Dre in a Cadillac with a Glock, getting high, waiting for niggas to run up," Benjamin's cousin Angelo reminisced to Vibe magazine in 1998. "He had a lot of women back then." Patton, meanwhile, pondered selling drugs to get enough money for studio time, as the Wu-Tang Clan, Eazy-E, and countless other groups had done before.

Before that happened, however, the duo was signed by L.A. Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds to their LaFace label, shortly before Patton graduated. In 1993, the two released their first single, "Player's Ball." It was an immediate hit. Though other Atlanta rappers had garnered success before them (notably Kriss Kross), Outkast was the first to have a hit with specific references to its city, calling out neighborhoods like East Point and College Park. "A player is somebody who take care of they business in the game, the game of life," Dre explained to Source magazine in 1994. "You can be a regular, average everyday Joe and be a player as long as you handle your business," Big Boi added. "If you're true to yourself and true to what you're doing, then can't nobody call you out."

The "Player's Ball" single eventually went gold and was soon followed by a full-length album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. A critical and commercial success, Southern was largely produced by Organized Noize. It spawned two more hit singles: the title track and "Get Up and Get Out." It went platinum later that year. The contrast between "Player's Ball" and the motivational anthem "Get Up and Get Out" would become a hallmark for Outkast. Ever since, the group has tried to strike a careful balance between positive messages and street-oriented stories. As Big Boi explained to Vibe in 1998, "Once you start getting preachy, that's when you start being like an overbearing parent we just giving you everyday life how we see it."

Southern also served as a platform for fellow Atlanta rappers Goodie Mob (an acronym for the "Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit") and Organized Noize's fledging production skills. Over the next two years, the latter would work on several rap and R&B hits, including Curtis Mayfield's comeback LP, New World Order; TLC's Crazysexycool; and Goodie Mob's debut, Soul Food, as well as its own side project, Society of Soul's Brainchild. The close relationship led many to believe that Outkast's success was due to Organized Noize's production genius, a misconception the former would soon dispel. Outkast's second album, ATLiens, did even better than the first, selling 1.5 million copies and spawning another gold single, "Elevators (Me and You)." During this time, Dre began to develop the outrageous image for which he would become famous, wearing large wraps and dressing in white linen. "I done changed totally," Dre said in an interview with Source in 1998 while discussing his switch from designer gear to vintage clothing.

Despite the acclaim for ATLiens, many of Outkast's fans couldn't handle its current fascination with space travel and consciousness-raising. Others felt that Dre, based on his unique sartorial decisions, had lost his mind, spurring a series of bizarre rumors, from alleged drug use to homosexual behavior, that have continued to haunt him. "Everybody want to be a thug man," Dre charged in a 1998 Source interview. "[But] people just scared to [be original]. But everybody waiting on that nigga to do it. So you have to be a strong nigga to take that ridicule." During this time, Dre developed a romance with Erykah Badu; the two eventually had a son. Dre also began painting professionally, while Big Boi started his own pit bull breeding farm, Pitfall Kennels, in Fayetteville, Ga.

Along with Organized Noize and the Goodie Mob, Outkast spearheaded a new collective, the Dungeon Family. It grew to include like-minded artists like Witchdocktor (A S.W.A.T. Healing Ritual), and Cool Breeze (East Point's Greatest Hit). The duo also contributed to several soundtracks, notably "In Due Time" for Soul Food and "Benz or Beamer" for New Jersey Drive.

In 1998, Outkast released its third opus, the double-platinum Aquemini, which went on to be its most successful album yet. Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, it received universal acclaim from music critics and fans, satiating the alternative audience who bought ATLiens as well as the hardcore fans who first discovered them on Southern.

"This album is a mixture between the music on the first album and the lyrical styles of the second," Big Boi told Source, which gave Aquemini its highest rating five mics for only the ninth time in its 12-year history. In its wrap up of the 90 greatest albums of the '90s, Spin magazine ranked Aquemini at No. 35.

On Aquemini, Dre and Big Boi took control of their own sound as well. As Earthtone II, they produced the lion's share of the record using sounds generated from live instruments and finally stepped out from the shadow of longtime collaborators Organized Noize.

Their tight bond was indicated in the album's title an amalgam of Dre (Gemini) and Big Boi's (Aquarius) astrological signs. "I smoke. He don't smoke. I go to strip clubs. He don't go to strip clubs. He used to, you know what I'm saying?" Big Boi said to Source when describing their differences, adding that Dre abstains from alcohol and is a vegetarian as well. "I mean, that's individualism. And that's what Outkast is all about."

OutkastThe next year, Outkast received a Grammy nomination for the album's first single, "Rosa Parks." The real Rosa Parks, however, took offense to the language used in the song and brought a lawsuit against them for unlawful use of her name. In a statement, the group said, "It was never, nor has ever been, our intention to defame a woman who we consider a role model and a civil rights pioneer. We hope to be able to work out this situation amicably." The suit, however, went to court, where the judge ruled in Outkast's favor. Parks decided to appeal the decision and enlisted the help of famed lawyer Johnnie Cochran in her efforts. The appeal is still pending.

Outside of the courtroom, Outkast contributed to the Dungeon Family all-star track and Cool Breeze's hit single "Watch for the Hook." Big Boi guest-starred on Missy Elliott's "All N My Grill" and the Youngbloodz' "85." This year, Outkast contributed to soundtracks for The Wood ("Neck Uv Da Woods" with Mystikal) and the updated Shaft ("Tough Guy" with UGK). On Halloween 2000, Outkast released the highly anticipated CD Stankonia. Thanks to the response accorded its first three platinum releases, Stankonia is something of an event on the scale of Madonna and Radiohead's new albums. As Big Boi told Details, "Our influences are so vast that if we drop something, you better believe it's going to be groundbreaking."

by Mosi Reeves from Wall of Sounds
Speakerboxx / The Love Below
Outkast - Speakerboxx / The Love Below Track Listing:
Disc: 1
1. Intro
2. GhettoMusick
3. Unhappy
4. Bowtie
5. The Way You Move
6. The Rooster
7. Bust
8. War
9. Church
10. Bamboo (Interlude)
11. Tomb Of The Boom
12. E-Mac (Interlude)
13. Knowing
14. Flip Flop Rock
15. Interlude
16. Reset
17. D-Boi (Interlude)
18. Last Call
19. Bowtie (Postlude)

1. The Love Below (Intro)
2. Love Hater
3. God (Interlude)
4. Happy Valentine's Day
5. Spread
6. Where Are My Panties?
7. Prototype
8. She Lives In My Lap
9. Hey Ya!
10. Roses
11. Good Day, Good Sir
12. Behold A Lady
13. Pink & Blue
14. Love In War
15. She's Alive
16. Dracula's Wedding
17. My Favorite Things
18. Take Off Your Cool
19. Vibrate
20. A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre
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Big Boi and Dre Present...Outkast
Outkast - Big Boi and Dre Present...Outkast Track Listing:
1. Intro
2. Funkin' Around
3. Ain't No Thang
4. So Fresh, So Clean
5. Rosa Parks
6. Whole World - Killer Mike
7. Aquemini
8. B.O.B.

9. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
10. Crumblin' Erb
11. Ms. Jackson
12. Player's Ball [Original Version]
13. Elevators (Me and You)
14. Spottieottiedopaliscious
15. Git Up, Git Out
16. Movin' Cool (the After Party)
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Outkast - Stankonia Track Listing:
1. Intro
2. Gasoline Dreams - Goodie Mob
3. I'm Cool (Interlude)
4. So Fresh, So Clean
5. Ms. Jackson
6. Snappin' & Trappin' - Killer Mike
7. D.F. (Interlude)
8. Spaghetti Junction
9. Kim & Cookie (Interlude)
10. I'll Call Before I Come
11. B.O.B.
12. Xplosion - B Real

13. Good Hair (Interlude)
14. We Luv Deez Hoez - Backbone
15. Humble Mumble - Erykah Badu
16. Drinking Again (Interlude)
17. Red Velvet
18. Cruisin' in the ATL (Interlude)
19. Gangsta Sh*t
20. Toilet Tisha - Goodie Mob
21. Slum Beautiful
22. Pre-Nump (Interlude) - Big Rube
23. Stankonia [Stanklove]
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Outkast - Aquemini Track Listing:
1. Hold On, Be Strong
2. Return of the "G"
3. Rosa Parks
4. Skew It on the Bar-B
5. Aquemini
6. Synthesizer - George Clinton
7. Slump
8. West Savannah

9. Art of Storytellin' (Pt. 1)
10. Art of Storytellin' (Pt. 2)
11. Mamacita
12. Spottieottiedopaliscious
13. Y'all Scared - Big Gipp
14. Nathaniel
15. Liberation
16. Chonkyfire
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Outkast - Atliens Track Listing:
1. You May Die (Intro)
2. Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)
3. Atliens
4. Wheelz of Steel
5. Jazzy Belle
6. Elevators (Me and You)
7. Ova da Wudz
8. Babylon

9. Wailin'
10. Mainstream
11. Decatur Psalm
12. Millennium
13. E.T. (Extraterrestrial)
14. 13th Floor/Growing Old
15. Elevators [Onp 86 Remix]
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Outkast - Southernplayalisticadillacmusik Track Listing:
1. Peaches
2. Myintrotoletuknow
3. Ain't No Thang
4. Welcome to Atlanta (Interlude)
5. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
6. Call of da Wild
7. Player's Ball [Original Version]
8. Claimin' True
9. Club Donkey Ass (Interlude)

10. Funky Ride
11. Flim Flam (Interlude)
12. Git Up, Git Out
13. True Dat (Interlude)
14. Crumblin' Erb
15. Hootie Hoo
16. Deep
17. Player's Ball (Reprise)
click here to buy Southernplayalisticadillacmusik

Outkast interview with Soul Train

Soul Train: Both "Rolling Stone" and "Entertainment Weekly" have called "Stankonia" your "masterpiece." Do you agree that it's the best work you've done so far?

AndreAndre: Well, I wouldn't say that, but we are having a lot of fun on this album. I mean, I guess we take the albums kind of like kids. So you can't really say your
third child is better than your first one. But, I mean, this child is out there doin' his thang [laughing], so we real happy about that.

ST: What sort of record did you set out to make, and did it turn out the way you envisioned it?

Big Boi: Like, when we go in the studio, we just go in with, like, ideas and concepts of different songs. We went in, and we like, 'OK, we gonna make an album like this.' We just go in and we work, and whatever comes comes.

ST: So how much of your work is improvisational, like in the studio?

Big Boi: [To Andre] What? About what? Eighty percent?

Andre: Yeah.

Big Boi: [Laughing] About 80 percent.

ST: Given all the critical acclaim the record has gotten, do you think at all about topping it, or don't you think in those terms?

Andre: Well, we think about just making the best music we can make of that time -- whatever that time and experiences that we goin' through at that time, you know, put out? That's what you're gonna get. That's what you're gonna hear in your record player or whatever.

ST: You've talked about listening to and being influenced by all kinds of music. Is there any kind of music you don't like or don't listen to?

Andre: Well, the only thing I can really say that I never really got into, but I like a couple of the -- is like country music. I mean, I like it, but I can't feel it too tight, but I like some of the music. But I plan to get into that, though.

ST: Why do you think the two of you make such a good musical partnership?

Andre: Balance.

Big BoiBig Boi: You just got two individuals -- first of all, we go back like -- what? -- almost 10 years now. We hooked up, you know what I'm sayin', homeboys from the jump, and we formed a group or whatever, just like Dre says, it's like a balance. You know what I'm sayin'? One person brings one thing to the table. The other person brings this. But then, at the same time, we can also bring a little bit of both of each other, you know what I'm sayin'? So, like, it's a good mix -- where it can connect.

ST: What's your vision for your record label, Aquemini?

Big Boi: Aquemini Records. We're looking to give, you know, up-and-coming cats a start, you know what I'm sayin', that got something to say on the microphone or whatever? Our first artist is Slimm Calhoun. His album will be out in February. It was produced by our production company, Earthtone III, which is Andre, me and our third member, Mr. DJ.We got a new artist that we just signed. His name is Killer Mike. He was featured on our album also. So, like, just new, raw talent. Just bringing it to the world, just givin' 'em a shot, you know? Someone else who's gonna offer something new to this music thing.

ST: And OutKast Clothing is in the works. What does it look like, and when will it be available?

Andre: It's lookin' really good, you know? We got some from one end to the next end to extreme, you know, type clothing.

ST: Does it reflect both your styles?

Andre: Yeah, most definitely. Actually, like the first couple of years, we're gonna be doin' like the designs of the clothes. So you'll be seein' some pretty tight stuff coming out. So it'll be out like Spring of 2001, so look out for it. OutKast Clothing Company is the name, so go to your local stores and shopping malls and stuff and pick it up.

ST: What's the next single off the record, and when will it be out?

Andre: "So Fresh, So Clean." We gonna drop that -- they actually playin' it now on the radio, but it'll be out, full-steam, in January.

ST: What would you like to say to all the Soul Train fans out there?

Andre: Really, peace, love and soul. And, really, let us start doin' live shows again.

ST: All right. Thanks very much. the official Outkast website