Outkast: Artist Project
Background and Early Life
Outkast, an Atlanta rap duo containing members Andre 3000 and Big Boi, is often credited for putting the south on the map in respect to the hip-hop scene. When Outkast was booed after winning the award for ‘Best New Artist’ at the 1995 Source Awards and Andre 3000 insisted that everyone listen to them by proclaiming that “The South got something to say!”, he set the tone for the way people would feel about southern rap and funk music forever.
Andre Lauren Benjamin (Andre 3000) and Antwan Andre Patton (Big Boi) met at an Atlanta performing arts high school where they discovered their mutual love for the legendary funk musicians who ultimately became the inspiration for a lot of Outkast’s music (Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, and Prince). They formed a rap group and played with the names “2 Shades Deep” and “The Misfits”, but they liked to play with the idea of Atlantans being alien-like, which led to them eventually taking on the name “Outkast” in 1994 that we now know them by today. That year they produced the hit, “Player’s Ball“, that brought them onto the hip-hop scene, and their accolades only grew bigger and bigger from that point on.
Influence on Hip-Hop and Southern Culture
During their active years, Andre 3000 and Big Boi were no strangers to pushing musical and stylistic boundaries and testing the limits of what was considered acceptable.They were always eager to change things up,including very atypical beats and melodies in their songs that always seemed towork, even when they did not make much sense sonically. People were not always receptive to the strange art that Outkast created, and Andre 3000 only amplified the groups edginess with his often loud wardrobe, which brought the group a lot of criticism. However, it was their otherworldliness andtheatricality that brought them to the top and gave their music its timelessness that allows people from multiple generations to love it and continue to play it.
On a basic level, Outkast’s music can be described as “conscious hip-hop”. Their raps are wise and loving, while also portraying the daily struggles of an ATLien in ways that are raw and very unique. Songs like “Git Up, Git Out” and “Aquemini” depict the feelings of being down-n-out but trying to come-up that so many of Outkast’s listeners can relate to. The conscious raps that Outkast put out influenced many great future hip-hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., and many more. Overall, Outkast added some necessary groove-funk sounds to hip-hop and made it acceptable to step outside the box in the ways that they did.