By: Maurice Garland
OutKast is the embodiment of a clash with conformity. Big Boi and Andre 3000’s collective name doubles as a mission statement, explaining why the Atlanta duo’s Southern-fried classics hover miles away from anything on the FM dial. They play hopscotch with genre boxes—colliding drum 'n’ bass with a gospel choir on “B.O.B.,” injecting ho-down harmonica into “Rosa Parks,” lifting Patti LaBelle with mammoth bass on “Ghetto Musick” (nearly a decade before Avicii and Flo Rida made Etta James’ vocals fist-pump appropriate).
Yet ’Kast’s true brilliance lies in its dichotomy. Big ’s pimp juice purees smoothly with Andre’s Mars bars and courageous melodies (Kanye’s fully crooned 808s & Heartbreak is a direct descendent of 3 Stacks’ The Love Below), forming a rich synergy that goes down as easy as Susie Screw. While the group has grown apart internally, the gap will never be as wide as the distance it created outpacing contemporaries.
Big K.R.I.T., southern rapper says:
“They weren’t willing to be put into a box. They experimented in a time when funk and psychedelic music might not have been cool; that made me proud to be Southern, to do whatever I want creatively. Big Boi was more of the player, while Andre was the revolutionary. But they were able to talk about whatever they wanted to. Lyrically, they’re so in-tune with society; they made music for the people, dropping their own jewels of knowledge. And their wordplay was so clever that it never got old to listen to. That’s what makes them two of the top lyricists ever.”