The first time I heard OutKast was my sophomore year of high school, when ATliens came out. The hip-hop game at that time was literally West or East coast. You came from NYC or LA, and that was it. Till OutKast. Atlanta’s favorite sons Andre3000 and Big Boi (aka Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton), out of East Point, have been the quintessential style and sound of the south since 1992.
Their lyrical uniqueness, and ability to morph the meaning of the words with dirty-south dialect was not only original, but an innovation in the english language. ” Throw your hands in the air, and wave them like you just don’t care.” The words “air” and “care” suddenly added a syllable. A smooth-melodic-southern syllable. This became one of the primordial characteristics in the evolution of OutKast. Another was the seemingly innate ability to write mythically catchy hooks, that changed hip-hop, and became forever embedded in pop culture.
As an intern at a sports agency in Atlanta, summer of 2003, I would attend corporate functions and events in the downtown area. At a charity event my company sponsored, there was a rumor OutKast might show up. At the bowling alley. They did. Dressed to kill. Full on bright colors, furs, platform shoes, chains, sunglasses and swagger. Some artists have stage personas, costumes, even different identities. Not them. They were about five lanes down from me, and with every strike, “Hootie Hoo’s!!” would permeate the air. Bowling or headlining Coachella. OutKast is OutKast.
I caught them during the Stankonia tour at Pine Knob Amphitheater (now DTE) in the summer of 2001. The energy they brought with each song, combined with the choreographed dancers and festival environment still illuminates my memory today. Andre in a white fur coat, shirtless underneath with matching platform shoes. Big Boi wearing a pin-stripe with aviators and chains. Their enthusiasm and obvious joy of being on stage is absolutely infectious. The spectacle that is an Outkast show, takes crowd interaction to new heights. We had reached almost a riot-level noise of controlled chaos, singing the chorus to the closer “Bombs Over Baghdad”. People of every kind just screaming the words in unison like they were their last, when prompted by Andre. Showmanship is an art, and although both men differ in styles, together create a dirty-southern masterpiece.
The album covers are as unique and artistic as the music inside them. Specifically, the ATliens album depicts a large chested woman, naked and showered in a green psychedelic light. My teammates mom found it when we were 15, and censored it with a black-sharpie bikini, promoting endless taunting every time it was cued up in the locker room. In college, as luck would have it my english teacher was named Ms. Jackson. Which of course resulted in the chorus whenever a mistake was made. I’m pretty sure she was the only one who didn’t love that song. Even now, I often hear OutKast references and see their influence in artists today. They put the ATL on the hip-hop map, giving the city an identity as a place of wild energy, innovation and a style all its own. So fresh, So clean.
Two Po’ Boyz (In a Cadillac)– Coconut dusted shrimp, tomato relish remoulade.
West Savannah Shrimp Nachos– Frito Scoops, ceviche style shrimp with jalapeño shredded cheese.
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