Did you truly hear two future stars back then?
I was just really enjoying the music. You knew when you heard it that this would not be your last time hearing from them. Like even you hear “Funky Ride”––I had never heard an interlude on an album like that before. You may have got that from a DJ Quik album when he would do “Quik’s Groove” but for a funky ass song like that to just pop up in the middle of the album with neither of the two rapping on it, just this guy named Sleepy Brown singing on it, it’s like this sounds great. Just the way that those guys presented the music you knew this wouldn’t be the last time you heard them. Even how the album is on a funk soul vibe then they end it with that alien voice. It’s like, Where the hell did that come from? Then two years later, ATLiens come out. So they were ahead of their time.
It was even interesting listening to them perform verses from the first album like “Hootie Hoo” where the girl called Dre claiming he got her pregnant and he hangs up on her. Here he is today a very involved father to Seven. But something else I noticed on that first album was that Dre seemed very angry.
I was thinking about that just the other day. With the Coachella show, all these old photos kept popping up. Mind you these are photos I had already seen, whether at Stankonia [Studios] or around Big. But now when you look at them it’s like Wow, they’re not smiling in any of these photos. They ain’t smilng on the press photos. They ain’t smiling on the album cover, not inside. Kind of makes sense because they definitely sounded angry.
This is probably a little of both but I couldn’t tell if it was them articulating the frustration of being in your late teens in the hood and on the brink of adulthood or if it was We’re from the A and every rapper from New York to L.A. got a scowl on their face so we can’t look happy. We gotta look hardcore.
[Laughs] Yeah, probably a little of both.
Even though it felt like they definitely had something to prove to rap purists, it was still with their own sound so there was balance to appreciate. But at the end of the day those two bust. I wasn’t so much a “Players Ball” fan. “Southernplayalistic…” was what fell me in love with OutKast. The track alone is just gorgeous and then Big and Dre are murdering. Dre’s playing around with flows; his last verse was crazy––“…it ain’t brail but it’s bumpin.’”
[Laughs] Yeah! That shit was fire!
He was killing. Getting back to them having their own identity, I loved how Big Boi…he didn’t throw a jab at the West Coast, but he separated himself with “See juice and gin used to be my friend from the beginning/now I’m just a player sippin’ sauce every now and then.” It’s like last year was all Snoop and the year before The Chronic, but now it’s about the south. Even being from New York I had to appreciate that. Even to this day.
Yeah I always felt like I saw something in the way they released the videos. With “Player’s Ball” it was like OK they letting y’all know this is how we talk, how we dress, this is where we hang, this is what we do. Then when that “Southernplayalistic…” came out it was almost like they were holding their nuts like Yeah nigga! We here now. This is our shit. We coming to take it over. By the time they dropped “Git Up Git Out” it was like, Well shit, we gonna bring our homeboys too. Now what?
They knew what they doing. They were speaking directly to their peers. You may be from Houston, you may be from Compton or Queens, but if you’re 18 you’re trying to graduate or get into college or you know you’re not going to college and your parents holla’n yo ass need a job. You either need to make the grade or some money and that was universal. I don’t know if that was by design or just articulating their experience, but everyone who succeeds receives a bit of fortune and timing is everything. They were fortunate enough that their message was an evergreen topic.
That was all that they knew to present. They were fresh out of high school. It wasn’t a time when everything was scrutinized. They weren’t 25-years-old in the studio saying “What are we gonna say to relate to these kids coming out of high school?” This is before folks would say this is a young man’s sport and you gotta rap like this to appeal to them. That’s all they knew up to that point. There was nothing to sell. That’s what really connected to the people.
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