History of Media Arts II
30 April 2015
Outkast and their Magnum Opus:
“The south has something to say” are the words that a twentyyear old Andre Benjamin, better known by his stage name Andre 3000, proclaimed to an unsettled audience during
Outkast’s acceptance speech for Best New Rap Group at the 1995 Source Awards. Andre 3000 and Antwan Patton, better know by Big Boi, emerged from the streets of Atlanta, Georgia to tell the world what it’s like to be a young black male in the hot, tense, and weird “dirty south” at a time when the hiphop world revolved around the conflict of East vs. West. Through their masterful and clever lyricism over heavy bass music that resonated 70’s soul, Outkast shared an honest and refreshingly positive portrayal of life for youth in the deep south’s ghetto, meshing their creative minds to convey all of the hardcore truths of life in the ghetto that were expressed in hiphop, but through a fresh musical style and unusually nuanced outlook. Benjamin and
Patton solidified the genre of dirty south rap, but went far beyond the streets of Atlanta and the hiphop/rap genre. Outkast created an eclectic catalogue of music that was innovative in composition and approached it’s versatile subjects with funk, soul, and through an artistic collaboration that resulted in universal acclaim for their music and for the first time, the hiphop/rap genre. While it is important to dissect their entire career to understand how much of an impact Outkast had on hiphop and music as a whole, their 2000 album
is perhaps their most important work socially, politically, and artistically. The album meshes hiphop/rap
Popowski 2 with punk, gospel, funk, and a multitude of other versatile musical influences to create a piece of work that shines a light on the social injustices and capitalist destructiveness in the U.S. in the most groove inducing, musically innovative ways possible.
Antwan Patton and Andre Benjamin met in the tenth grade when they began attending
TriCities High School in East Point, Georgia, a school that emphasized the performing arts. The two became close friends due to their mutual interests in atypical music and fashion that made their music and personas as Outkast so strikingly original. Unlike the other kids at their school,
Benjamin and Patton preferred to wear preppy clothes and listened to second stream hiphop like the Brand Nubians, Eric B. & Rakim, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest as well as music from across the board like Depeche Mode, Grand Funk Railroad, and Prince (“World”)
(Gresko). Benjamin was known to skate board, wear floral shirts, and ride BMX bikes, while
Patton had a 3.68 GPA, had grown up primarily in the country of Savannah, Georgia, and had a weird obsession with the music of experimental/alternative English singer/songwriter Kate Bush
(“Articles”). Both were distinct individuals who shared an interest of creating hiphop melodies and rap lyrics that expressed their oddball experience in a systematic ghetto like East Point that consists of “pimps”, “Mack daddies”, and selling dope. The two originally went under the name
“2 Shades Deep” and then “The Misfits”, but after realizing both names had been used, they found “outcast” in the dictionary as a synonym to misfit, adopting the phonetic spelling of the word: “Outkast” (“World”).
Big Boi and Andre 3000 were able to bring their music to the light of day when they met
Rico Wade, one of the founders of the hip hop/R&B/soul collective Dungeon Family and the
Organized Noize production company, and a producer to hits like TLC’s “Waterfalls” (“World”).
Their first album,
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, was recorded primarily in the Dungeon recording studio in Atlanta in 1993. The album displayed their wide range of influences, from early southern rappers like UGK and 8Ball & MJG to