On the 20th anniversary of Outkast’s debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, VIBE reaches into the archives to unearth our first impression of the now-legendary hip-hop duo: their NEXT feature from the August 1994 issue.
LaFace’s latest rap group is climbing the charts and having a “Player’s Ball.”
BOOTY MACKS, PIMP SLAPS, AND DAY-GLO CADILLACS: the infamous imagery of the ‘70s baadasssss blaxploitation films has been appropriated by the hip jop nation since the early days of the new school. From the papa large style of Big Daddy Kane to the orchestral orgasms of the Dramatics wailing in the background of Snoop’s “Doggy Dogg World,” the noir artists of Generation X have always been more macker than slacker.
Outkast have composed the perfect soundtrack to accompany their mack daddy fantasies, and their debut single “Player’s Ball” swaggers like a lethal mixture of Stagolee and Superfly dancing to the wah-wah beat. “With our music, me and Big Boi are trying to bring back the ‘70s,” Andre says in a thick-as-smoke country accent. With a beat that’s as smooth as a black ‘77 Seville with a Tabasco red crushed-velvet interior, “Player’s Ball” is just a piece of the larger picture. Their album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, is crude enough to be Afro-kitsch, cool enough to be an Iceberg Slim daydream. “Down South there’s lots of players rolling in Cadillacs. We just wanted to put that wild lifestyle on wax,” Big Boi explains.
Big Boi, 19 and Andre, 18 first became homeboys when they were students at Atlanta’s Tri-Cities High School, a performing arts high school that their homegirls Xscape attended. After the outkast boys hooked up, they began developing their skills in Andre’s father’s basement. “I had moved in with my pop, ‘cause me and my mother were having problems. Then Big Boi moved in with me,” Andre says.
After performing at talent shows, Outkast began playin’ in local clubs. Says Andre, “It was round that time that we met our producers, Organized Noize.” (The team — Rico, Ray and Pat –has also done tracks for TLC.) “We worked on material for a few months, then we were asked to drop some rhymes on L.A. Reid for LaFace Records.” Smiling, Big Boi adds, “We dropped some freestyles, then LaFace set up a showcase for us. After doing two more showcases, we were signed.”
For a label that’s well-known for composing the designer soul of artists like Toni Braxton, it seems odd that the LaFace logo is on the cover of a hip hop album. “Real recognizes real,” say, Andre. “L.A. may not know a lot about rap music, but he knows what sounds good.”
And Atlanta has another success. “The singer on Player’s Ball [Sleepy Dog Brown of Society of Soul] is working on his solo album, and we’re going to try and produce other artists,” says Andre. “The vibe in the A-T-L is good for making good music.” –Michael Gonzales