Essential Albums

  • Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
  • Stankonia
  • Aquemini
  • ATLiens
  • Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

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Live Albums

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About Outkast

Back before rappers in the American South got the respect of their East and West Coast contemporaries, Outkast raised the bar for lyricism, originality and creativity. "The South got something to say," André 3000 proclaimed at the 1995 Source Awards as he and Big Boi accepted the award for Best New Rap Group. Atlanta natives André Benjamin and Antwan Patton, both born in 1975, met as teenagers rapping in their school cafeteria before forming a duo and connecting with local producers Organized Noize. Their 1994 debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik—punctuated by a silky single, "Player's Ball"—was a coming-of-age depiction of the pimps, rides and aura of their hood. With thick drawls and lucid lyrics over soulful instrumentation, Outkast continued their art of storytelling with three almost instantly classic follow-ups, ATLiens, Aquemini and Stankonia. Each record offered more amorphous flows and endless imagination than the one before it, with bars promoting non-violence and perseverance, perhaps most explicitly spelled out on socially conscious standout "Humble Mumble". Over time, they played up their complementary personalities: André's poetic pensiveness and eccentricity shined, as Big Boi excelled at quick-witted slick talk. And those contrasts blossomed on 2003's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a double album featuring Big Boi's funk-infused hip-hop and André's Prince and Jimi Hendrix-inspired ballads. After winning the Grammys' highest honour (Album of the Year) for their ambitious efforts—making them the second rap act to do so—Outkast released the soundtrack to their 1930s-era musical film, Idlewild, then took a break. Since, Big Boi has released lively solo albums, while André goes wherever his spirit takes him. It may be tough to imagine, but before ATL became one of the major hubs of rap music, it was Outkast who convinced out-of-towners that the A was already on the map.

Atlanta, GA, United States

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