In case you’ve been living under a rock with no internet connection for the past week (at this point, most rocks are fully wired for wi-fi, right?), OutKast is back! The ATLien rap legends Big Boi and Andre 3000 recently announced their first round of shows in a decade. (Though OutKast’s last public hurrah was 2006’s Idlewild, 3000’s now-famous stage fright had already sidelined him by then, so that the group’s last known public performance was at the 2004 Grammy Awards.) They will headline the Coachella Festival in California in April and New York City’s Governor’s Ball in June, all part of a yet-to-be-announced 40-date tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their 1994 debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.
This 20th anniversary trek is a good time to talk about OutKast’s impact on rap. Big and Andre have been trailblazers since jump, both in the way they took Southern hip-hop from the margins to the mainstream and in the way everything they did built on the oeuvre of their predecessors—the Princes, the Parliaments—while maintaining a singular, inimitable sense of self.
Way before Kanye and A$AP Rocky strapped on haute couture threads and made outre outerwear the norm in rap, Andre and Antwan (well, mostly Andre) were out rocking turbans, kimonos and whatever else struck their fancy. They made a movie to accompany their 2006 album Idlewild (or an album to accompany the movie, depending on how you look at it), years before album-and-a-film projects like Kanye West’s Runaway and Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet. They took home hip-hop’s second Album of the Year Grammy for 2003’s critically acclaimed double album Speakerboxx/The Love Below, which is still listed among the genre’s best-selling albums of all time.
But the footprint OutKast left on the rap game from a musical standpoint is what we want to discuss here. This is a list of Andre and Big Boi’s profound effects on the music and mechanics of hip-hop, sounds they pursued in their work that would go on to weave themselves into the very fabric of mainstream rap today.
To stank them for everything they've done for us.
Written by Craig Jenkins (@CraigSJ)
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