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Just Who Is OutKast Again?

The sun sets over the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.
The sun sets over the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.
Photos by Marco Torres

Two years ago at Coachella, Dr. Dre reunited with his The Chronic homie Snoop Dogg, a standout performance that also featured a special appearance by Hologram Tupac Shakur. Last year, it was '90s backpack-rap group Jurassic 5's turn to reunite in the desert. Last week another hip-hop reunion was announced, confirming the rumors that have been circulating on the interwebs for months now: after a ten-year hiatus, the pioneering Southern rap duo OutKast is set to headline this year's festival.

Almost immediately, ungrateful music fans hit their social media accounts to shout in disgust at the lineup, which has become something of a yearly ritual for Coachella lovers and former fans. One of the prevailing questions was simple: Who is OutKast?

Well, for everyone asking that question, we here at Rocks Off would like to enlighten you. And for everyone else, we hope this lesson serves as a southernplayalistic refresher.

Big Boi of OutKast at the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival.EXPAND
Big Boi of OutKast at the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival.

In the early '90s, André "3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton lived and went to school in the East Point neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. After signing with LaFace Records in 1992, they released their debut single "Player's Ball" in late 1993, a funky ode to all the playas, pimps, and hustlers riding around in their Cadillacs. The following year, that track lead to their debut full-length album, Southerplayalisticadillacmuzik.

Their style was less gangsta and more pimp, with a smooth, intelligent delivery and an emphasis on being cooler than cool. The lyrical back and forth between André and Big Boi was natural, complementary, and forever visionary. It was never about acting the part, they are the South, they are talented wordsmiths, they are something special.

Just Who Is OutKast Again?

As OutKast's fame and influence grew, they joined an elite set of rap groups who transcended their cities and became ambassadors for the Dirty South that cultivated fans on both the East and West coasts, as well as internationally. The other groups were Underground Kingz, Geto Boys, Three 6 Mafia, and 8Ball & MJG.

And the hits kept coming. Their sophomore album ATLiens was released in 1996, and was both critically acclaimed and certified platinum. Each subsequent album received double the accolades as the last, with Aquemini going double-platinum in 1998, and Stankonia reaching quadruple-platinum status in the year 2000.

Then the group managed to accomplish something no other rap group had ever done: win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year with 2003's double feature Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. That album also won five other Grammys and was diamond-certified.

Twenty years doing anything is a long time. Twenty successful years in an unforgiving and fickle industry is almost a miracle. But that goes to show how innovative, welcoming, and dreamy OutKast's music has been. It also helps that the rappers themselves are charismatic juggernauts, who dress, speak, smile, and rap with unrivaled agility and confidence.

Story continues on the next page.

 

They keep it trill to who they are and who they want to be, never allowing others to steer them off their path. "It's truly and honor to celebrate 20 years and still be free to do music the way we choose" said Big Boi in a press release which formally announced the duo's reunion and a tour of approximately 40 music festivals this year, beginning with Coachella in April.

That's who they are. Way more than just the guys who sing that "Hey Ya" song. Way more than the actors they have portrayed in the big screen and in commercials. Way more than just rappers. They are a force that forever told the world that "the South got something to say."

Our favorite UGK/OutKast Collaboration:

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