The 50 Best Debut Rap Singles

15. OutKast "Player's Ball" (1993)

Producer: Organized Noise
Album: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
Label: LaFace, Arista

André 3000 begins, "It's beginning to look a lot like what? Follow my every step." Good advice. Even if you don't know that OutKast's debut single was intended as a Christmas song, and thus miss the cleverness of the opening turn, the first line still works as a perfect introduction to one of hip-hop's greatest groups.

From '94 to 2003, from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below we played catch up with Big Boi and Dré. With each album of effortlessly tuneful rap, the duo moved along a path fans and critics couldn't see. Like the skit on Aquemini says, "Man, first they were some pimps. Then they were some aliens or some genies—some shit. Then they be talkin' 'bout that black righteous space."

"Player's Ball" is definitely on some pimp shit. The hook is infectious, better than most pop. That's a hallmark of 'Kast's sound, the earworm. André 3000's flow is natural but far from routine—you struggled to keep up. Big Boi's verses are full of his impeccable enunciation and slickness. And the sleigh bells keep everything chill, regardless of the season. —Ross Scarano

Tags: outkast
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