OutKast



OutKast is an American hip hop duo based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Its original musical style was a mixture of Dirty South and G-Funk; since then, funk, soul, electronica, rock, spoken word poetry, crunk, chopped and screwed music, jazz, and blues elements have been added to the mix. The duo consists of André "André 3000" Benjamin (formerly known as "Dre") and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton, both from the Atlanta area.

OutKast is one of the most successful hip-hop groups of all time, having sold over 20 million copies of its six releases: five studio albums, a greatest hits release, and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a double album containing a solo album from each member of the duo. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is one of only three hip-hop albums to be certified diamond in the US for shipping over 10 million units, the other two being MC Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em and The Notorious B.I.G.'s double-album Life After Death. Despite the group's commercial success, it has maintained an experimental approach in its music and is widely praised for its originality and artistic content.

Benjamin and Patton went to Tri-Cities High School together in East Point, Georgia, and became musical rivals, challenging each other to freestyle MC battles on a regular basis. Unfortunately, young Benjamin was unable to effectively freestyle, so he developed a whimsical musical style to compensate, which would later become his trademark. They eventually teamed up, and were pursued by Organized Noize, a group of local producers who would later make hits for TLC and Xscape. While searching through a dictionary, Big Boi and André 3000 came across the word "outcast" and decided this would be a perfect group name, for at the time the hip hop industry was dominated by East Coast and West Coast rappers who saw southern rappers as outcasts. They simply changed the "c" in the word into a "k". OutKast, Organized Noize, and schoolmates Goodie Mob formed the nucleus of the Dungeon Family organization.

OutKast signed to LaFace Records in 1992, becoming the label's first hip hop act and making their first appearance on the remix of labelmates TLC's "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg". In 1993, they released their first single, "Player's Ball". The song's funky style, much of it accomplished with live instrumentation, was a hit with audiences."Player's Ball" hit number-one on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart.

Their full-length debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, was issued the next year. Follow-up singles included the title track and "Git Up, Git Out", a politically charged collaboration with Goodie Mob that was later sampled by Macy Gray for her 1999 hit "Do Something." On this early material, both André and Big Boi contrast lyrical content reflecting the lifestyles of pimps and gangsters with politically conscious material commenting on the status of African Americans in the South. OutKast won Best New Rap Group at the Source Awards in 1995.

ATLiens was OutKast's second album, released in 1996. The album hit number-two on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States, and helped the group earn more recognition among East Coast hip hop fans in the East and West coasts.

For this album, OutKast joined with partner David "Mr. DJ" Sheats to form the Earthtone III production company, which allowed the group to produce some of their own tracks. "ATLiens" was the group's first Top 40 single, and reflected the beginning of André's increasingly sober lifestyle: "No drugs or alcohol/so I can get the signal clear," he rhymes about himself. "Elevators (Me and You)," OutKast's first self-produced single, became the group's first Top 20 hit the same year.

OutKast's third album Aquemini (1998) also reached the number-two position on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States; its title was a combination of the zodiac signs of Big Boi (an Aquarius) and André (a Gemini). The album was widely praised as possibly the group's best material to date: when reviewed by popular hip-hop publication The Source, it received the much-coveted "5 Mics" (out of five) rating.

Producing more material themselves, both Big Boi and André explored more eclectic subject matter, delving into sounds inspired by soul, trip hop, and electro music. The album featured production by Organized Noize and collaborations with Raekwon, funk pioneer and musical forebear George Clinton, and the Goodie Mob.

In 1999, OutKast and LaFace Records were sued by Rosa Parks over the album's most successful radio single, which bore Parks' name as its title. The lawsuit alleged that the song misappropriated Parks' name, and also objected to some of the song's obscene language.

The song's lyrics were largely unrelated to Parks, save for a line in the chorus: "Ah ha, hush that fuss / Everybody move to the back of the bus". The song, which OutKast maintained was intended partly as homage, only refers to Parks as a metaphor: the purpose of the song's chorus is to imply that OutKast are overturning hip hop's old order, that people should make way for a new style and sound. Other lyrics in the song relating to André meeting a woman on a bus have nothing to do with Parks: rather, they are probably a reference to Erykah Badu (his verse begins, "I met a gypsy and she hipped me to some life game" - Badu is famed for her head-wrap which could arguably be considered the trappings of a "gypsy" look; the verse continues by describing a conversation between André and the "gypsy" in which she sets him thinking about how his "favourite group ain't comin' wid it", which ties directly in to the song's predominant theme about a lack of creativity in mainstream hip hop, something OutKast are here to challenge).

The initial lawsuit was dismissed. Parks' representation hired lawyer Johnnie Cochran to appeal the decision in 2001, but the appeal was denied on First Amendment grounds. In 2003, the Supreme Court allowed Parks' lawyers to proceed with the lawsuit.

In 2004, the judge in the case appointed an impartial representative for Parks after her family expressed concerns that her caretakers and her lawyers were pursuing the case based on their own financial interest. Later that same year, the members of OutKast were dropped as co-defendants, and Parks' lawyers continued to seek action against LaFace and parent company BMG. In 2003 André told UK journalist Angus Batey that, following a Detroit concert in the midst of the legal battle, relatives of Parks had approached him and implied that the case was less to do with Rosa than with the lawyers. The suit was finally settled on April 14, 2005, with neither OutKast nor their label having to admit any wrongdoing. The group did, however, have to agree to perform some sort of tribute to Parks: as of August 2006, the nature of this tribute had not been decided, and OutKast had not completed it.

Originally titled "Sandbox", the pair's fourth album, Stankonia was released in October 2000 to excellent reviews. It debuted at number-two on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., and would eventually be certified quadruple-platinum. Stankonia's first single was "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)", a high-tempo jungle-influenced record. The second single, "Ms. Jackson," combined a pop hook with lyrics about divorce and relationship breakups, particularly André's breakup with R&B singer Erykah Badu; the titular "Ms. Jackson" character being a doppelgänger for Badu's mother. It was at this time that André changed his stage name to the current "André 3000".

The single became their first pop crossover hit, landing the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the number-two position on the UK Singles Chart. The album's final single was the Organized Noize-produced "So Fresh, So Clean", featuring a credited guest appearance from regular guest vocalist and Organized Noize-member Sleepy Brown and garnered a remix featuring Snoop Dogg. All three singles' videos had heavy MTV2 airplay, and OutKast won two 2001 Grammy Awards, one for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Ms. Jackson", and another for Stankonia as Best Rap Album.

During the recording of Stankonia OutKast and Mr. DJ began producing tracks for the artists on their Aquemini Records imprint through Columbia, including Slimm Cutta Calhoun and Killer Mike, who made his debut appearance on Stankonia's "Snappin' & Trappin."

In December 2001, OutKast released a greatest hits album, Big Boi And Dre Present...OutKast, which also contained three new tracks. One of these new tracks was the single "The Whole World," which won a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Killer Mike also was featured on the song, gaining some exposure among areas outside of his native Atlanta. The voice of Big Boi's son can be heard at the start of the track.

The same year OutKast participated in the first and only Dungeon Family group album, Even in Darkness, along with Goodie Mob, Killer Mike, Sleepy Brown, Witchdoctor, and Backbone among others, and featuring Bubba Sparxxx, Shuga Luv and Mello. In 2002, the group and Killer Mike contributed the lead single "Land of a Million Drums" to the Scooby Doo soundtrack.

In September 2003 OutKast released a double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It is essentially two solo albums, one by each member, packaged as a single release under the OutKast banner. Big Boi's Speakerboxxx is largely a funk and Dirty South blended party record; André 3000's The Love Below features only brief instances of hip hop, presenting instead elements found in funk, R&B, and pop music.

The album is also OutKast's biggest commercial success yet, having debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at number-one and stayed there for several weeks. The album eventually sold over five million copies, and, as double-album sales count double for Recording Industry Association of America certification, the album was certified diamond (10 million units shipped) in December 2004.

The first two singles from the albums, which were released nearly simultaneously, were Big Boi's "The Way You Move" and André 3000's "Hey Ya!" The video for "Hey Ya!" is based on The Beatles' landmark appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The video's storyline has "The Love Below" a fictional band with all members played by André with the use of special effects, performing in London. "Hey Ya" was the number one song on the very final weekend of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. It was also number one a week later on the very first weekend of American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest. The singles spent ten weeks at number one on the Hot 100 singles chart, with "Hey Ya!" spending nine weeks and "The Way You Move" briefly taking over in February 2004. These singles were seen as a breakthrough for the hip-hop industry, being among the first hip-hop songs to be widely played on adult contemporary radio stations.

OutKast's next official single was not released until the summer of 2004. "Roses", a track featuring both members from The Love Below half of the album, did not meet the level of success as either of its predecessors, but it became a modest-sized hit on urban radio and the American music video networks[citation needed]. The video for "Roses" is loosely based on the musical West Side Story. It featured sparring 1950s-style gangs, one representing Speakerboxxx, and one representing The Love Below, parodying the widespread arguing among critics and fans as to which half of the album was better. The final singles were André 3000's "Prototype", which was paired with a science fiction-themed video about alien visitors, and Speakerboxxx's "Ghetto Musick," which featured both members of OutKast and a sample from a Patti LaBelle song.

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below won the Grammy Award for the 2004 'Album of the Year, becoming the first rap artist to ever receive the honor. OutKast was one of the headlining acts at the show, and gave two performances: Big Boi performed "The Way You Move" during a medley with George Clinton & P-Funk and Robert Randolph and the Family Band, while André 3000 performed "Hey Ya!" as the show closed. In February 2004, André 3000's performance, which featured dancers moving wildly around a green teepee in war paint and feathered headdresses, was criticized by the Native American Cultural Center, who called for a boycott of OutKast and of CBS, the broadcaster of the awards show. CBS later apologized, though Outkast has not.

Between OutKast albums, Big Boi and André 3000 ventured into film projects. André co-starred in John Singleton's action film Four Brothers and also had a part in Be Cool, while Big Boi took a featured role in the T.I. movie ATL. Both members also began working on a joint film, Idlewild, directed by OutKast music video director Bryan Barber. Idlewild, a Prohibition-era musical film set to a blues-influenced hip-hop soundtrack, was released on August 25, 2006 by Universal Pictures. The Idlewild soundtrack was released August 22, 2006. Its lead single, "The Mighty 'O'", features both OutKast members, and was briefly played exclusively on local Atlanta radio stations before being issued as a single in May 2006. They released and shot the video for "Morris Brown" instead. A video for "Idlewild Blue (Don'tchu Worry About Me)" soon followed. The entire Idlewild album leaked to the Internet on August 13th, 2006, nine days before its scheduled release.

Aquemeni Records folded in 2004, and Big Boi founded a new record label, Purple Ribbon Entertainment, to be distributed by Virgin Records. Among its first signees were Sleepy Brown, Bubba Sparxxx, and Killer Mike, Big Boi has released a group album/compliation, titled Big Boi Presents... The Purple Ribbon All-Stars - Got Purp? Vol. 2.

Following these, OutKast has one LP left in its LaFace contract, and had originally planned for that album to be a ten-track release titled The Hard 10. With Big Boi and André becoming increasingly distant over the years, rumors of a split have turned up frequently in the media. Big Boi's second solo record is also expected after The Hard 10, and as of September 2005 fourteen songs have been recorded. In an August, 2006, UK interview, Big Boi claimed that collaborators on his solo LP would include Kate Bush, who emailed him after she had completed her 2005 comeback album to invite him to "camp out" at her home in Britain while they worked on tracks together. In a recent interview with the L.A. Times, Outkast confrimed that "The Hard 10" was still going to come out, but said they would keep it 'under wraps' until the album's release.

Andre has recently denied those rumors on a phone interview with MTV News, stating that even though they do not feel like performing on stage together, OutKast is "still tight". In an August, 2006, interview with UK journalist Craig McLean, after emphasising that they would not split, the pair looked beyond music and film careers, Big Boi suggesting he may consider running for the job of Mayor of Atlanta in the future.

Big Boi addresses the media's coverage of the rumor of Outkast splitting up on "Hollywood Divorce", a track off of the new Idlewild soundtrack that also features verses from Andre 3000, Lil' Wayne, and Snoop Dogg.

* In a campaign commercial released October 30, 2003, the Wesley Clark presidential campaign made reference to OutKast. The reference was an attempt to get the attention of a much younger generation of potential voters. In the ad, Clark is sitting in a coffee shop with a dozen middle-class young adults of various American ethnicities. The young adults do not speak, but sit and listen as Clark appears to be answering their questions. "Well, to answer your questions, no, I would not have voted for the Iraq war... I am pro-choice and I am a strong believer in affirmative action; and I don't care what the other candidates say, I don't think OutKast is really breaking up. André 3000 and Big Boi just cut solo records, that's all." The last comment prompts one of the young adults, a blonde-bearded Caucasian, to say approvingly "alright" and to tap fists with Clark.

* OutKast was "Punk'd" by Ashton Kutcher, after Kutcher fakes stealing and crashing through a store window a Maybach 62 loaned to OutKast for the after-Grammys party.

* Many of Outkast's monikers and nicknames can be heard on a skit on Stankonia entitled D.F. (Interlude).Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home