Big Boi On Missing A Chance To Work With 2 Pac, Plus More Life Lessons

Outkast’s more vocal half reflects on his long career, personal triumphs, mistakes and lessons learned

I met Dre in the Tri-Cities High School lunchroom. There were a lot of gangs, but we were the preppy pretty boys. Our friendship wasn’t about rapping at first. Then two of our friends got busted for robbing a liquor store. We went on to rap, and they got 20 years.

My father passed away four or five years ago, my grandmother passed a year ago, and another one a year before that. These were the people who raised me, so I’m just now healing. I used music as a way of self-medicating.

We first met Tupac in Ohio at a show. He was leaving for the hotel and told the limo driver to stop, and he wouldn’t, so this muh’fucka jumped through the limo’s partition, threw the car in park while the driver was driving and almost threw the transmission out. When ’Pac was working on the Makaveli album, he wanted to do a song with us, but we never got to.

Until y’all see us sitting together, don’t ask me about no OutKast. My kids stay over at Uncle Dre’s or go to his mom’s house. He and his dad come by to watch football and shoot pool. Only so many times you can say, “Ain’t nothing wrong.”

My dad was in the Marines, so he was in and out a lot. My greatest moment with him was when he came back from Beirut with a brand-new [Chevy] IROC, when Run-D.M.C.’s “Rock Box” came out. We had the top down. I was sitting on his lap riding up and down the street just listening. That’s when I fell in love with rap.

We never tried to match, but Dre and I were always color-coordinated. When we did , Dre had on the diaper and was like, “What you think?” I was like, “Do that shit.” I had a fur coat, hoping that some muh’fucka from PETA would throw some shit on me.

I’m glad I had kids young because we have a strong bond and listen to the same music. My daughter turned me onto Wiz Khalifa and the Weeknd. High school girls love his love songs.

We were finishing “Ms. Jackson” and needed a bass line. It just so happened that Aaron Mills from the group Cameo came in and played their bass line from “Candy.” The whole room started glowing. No bullshit, it was like Chappelle’s Show when you could see Prince’s purple aura in the room. It was a magical moment. —AS TOLD TO HILLARY CROSLEY

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