Things Get Weird And Wonderful (1995-1998)
Andre 3000 is officially born and Big Boi becomes the trap boys' go-to MC. Following the criminally underrated, street-praised New Jersey Drive soundtrack single "Benz or Beemer," Mr. Benjamin puts on a green turban and begins weaving space-age, philosophical rhymes. Everything from the title of OutKast's classic sophomore statement (ATLiens) to the futuristic comic book artwork of the album cover suggest that things will never be the same. Their sound is now more self-assured and adventurous as Dre and Big have taken the studio reigns on six of the 15 tracks; their lyrics more complex and layered. "Elevators (Me & You)" ranks as one of the strangest mainstream rap hits of that decade with its psychedelic reggae dub bassline and an infectious chorus that sounds like it was recorded during an acid-drenched dream ("Me and you, your mama and your cousins too...").
By their third studio effort—the peerless Aquemini—OutKast became a legit heavyweight act, basking in the cosmic glow of a third consecutive platinum album. Even more impressive is the duo's risk-taking high art. Nowhere is the duo's musical evolution more pronounced than on the brilliant "Rosa Parks," a work that manages to blend the blues, gospel, dance workouts, and hip-hop without ever coming off as brazenly contrived. Andre 3000 spells it out: "I met a gypsy and she hipped me to some life game/To stimulate then activate the left and right brain/Said baby boy you only funky as your last cut/You focus on the past your ass'll be a has what." He and Big Boi haven't looked back since.