For hip-hop fans, there probably hasn't been a more anticipated concert in the last ten years than what transpired last night at the mega festival Coachella. Right outside of Palm Springs, CA, OutKast touched the stage together for the first time in over a decade. And while me and you, your mama and your cousin too refers to it as a "reunion," The Kings of Kast will tell everybody they never broke up. It was just a elongated hiatus.
Backstage, a little over an hour before showtime, both members of the legendary duo indeed looked like they've never been apart. Natural chemistry, with the enigmatic genius Andre 3000 and his lethally lyrical charismatic partner Big Boi, was abundant as they took pictures and cracked jokes with friends Busta Rhymes and Too Short (who performed with Girl Talk along with Juicy J and E-40 much to the surprise and delight of the 90,000 plus on hand).
Busta and Short were among a wide array of music luminaries such as: Diddy, Prince, LA Reid, Sir Paul McCartney, T.I. A$AP Rocky and the original A$AP Ferg, the duchess herself, Fergie.
With an audience who had been on their feet for hours on end and die hard Kast fans who stayed "woke" to catch the 11:30 PST start time, Dre and Big shot out of a cannon (figuratively, although you can't put it past the boundless duo to literally do it) taking no prisoners with their opening classic " B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad)."
It was one of those moments where your jubilation wrestled with disbelief. It took a verse and a chorus for the reality to really settle in; your ass is witnessing history, and thank God that one of the all-time great groups in any genre is back.
Not only were they back, but they had background singers, a live band, a big stage and a giant ass "box" that had screen and special FX (more on said box later).
"Gasoline," "Skew It On the Bar-B" and "Rosa Parks" followed. Electric!
"It feels good to be alive," Andre, dressed in a trucker hat, sweatshirt and overalls, said after acknowledging the 20th anniversary of their debut LP SouthernPlayalisticCadillacMuzik.
"Yo Dre, you wanna tell them a story?" This led into "The Art of Storytelling."
Soon after, it was a Dungeon Family reunion, with two generations of the legendary hip-hop stable onstage. For the first time, Future performed with OutKast, coming with "Same Damn Time" and "Ain't No Way Around It."
The electricity seemed to dissipate some during the middle of the OutKast set where Big and Dre went at it separately with solo material. While Big had plenty of showmanship, bringing out Janelle Monae and Sleepy Brown, the crowd didn't seem familiar with songs such as "Bowtie" and "Kryptonite" at all. In fact, it wasn't until Big's solo closer "I Like The Way You Move," that they started reacting again. Clearly the Coachella collective were OutKast fans, just not die-hard-been-down-since-day-one-know-every-album-cut-and-spinoff-record Outkast fans.
Dre seemed to be getting his game legs back during his solo set. After all, Big has been steadily touring for the past ten years, while this was Andre's first time hitting the stage.
For brief glimpses, Andre looked disengaged. Then he snapped back to the Andre we all loved.
After "Prototype," he asked a question that he insisted was serious:
"How many bitches we got in here tonight?" he said with a grin. He then started laughing.
"How many hoes?" He asked.
Then finally he asked, "How many ladies?"
Then transitioned into "Behold a Lady" from his eclectic classic The Love Below.
Hey, Michael Jordan only scored 19 points in his first game back. It took him four games to drop that double nickel against the Knicks.
The closeout however, was combustible.
"Ms. Jackson," and "So Fresh, So Clean" were instant adrenaline shots and "Hey Ya" was tangible rambunction, although Andre performed the entire first verse with his back to the crowd and looking into the sky.
But alas, even for a ten-year reunion and 20-year celebration, there is no measure given for overtime. Before Kast got to perform "The Whole World" with special guest Killer Mike, there mics and music were cut.