Right away, I want to state that OutKast isn’t necessarily a band, per se, but I think their music is of high quality and warrants ‘Band of the Week’ honors. We can argue the semantics of ‘band’ later on, but for now OutKast is staying put as ‘Band of the Week.’ Comment below if you feel otherwise.
The group now known as ‘OutKast’ was formed in 1992 in Atlanta, Georgia by André Benjamin (André 3000) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi). The original name of the hip-hop group was Two Shades Deep, but quickly became named as OutKast. The group is known as a hip-hop duo, but the pair use many different genres in their music, including: blues, electronic, funk, jazz rock, spoken word poetry, and soul. Not quite a hip-hop duo at all, but that’s what makes OutKast great – the inability to pin them down onto one genre.
The duo have created six total albums, but first struck mainstream gold with Stankonia (2000); specifically with songs ‘Ms. Jackson’ and ‘B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad). (The peculiar thing about B.O.B. is that the song was written before America had dropped bombs on Baghdad.) Three years later OutKast released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – which I believe to be the best Hip-Hop album of the 21st century (I know it’s only been thirteen years into this century, but this album still holds up and will hold up).
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below became Outkast’s most successful album to date (sold over 5 million albums and was the #1 album on the Billboard Top 200 for several), but that may be in part because of how the album was formulated. The album is actually a double album where Big Boi and André 3000 created several songs of their own without the other – the album includes 31 songs (including an ‘intro’ and an interlude). Other than Stadium Arcadium I can’t think of another recent album with this type of song volume. This strategy paid off because along with the commercial success, the group won the 2004 Grammy for ‘Album of the Year.’
The duo then created music for the musical film Idlewild in 2005/06. Idlewild set in the depression era of the United States in Georgia; the film was distributed by Universal Pictures and HBO Films. The group created the entire soundtrack for Idlewild and would be the last full album the duo did together. Since 2007 the two have gone on their separate ways with solo work (including acting as well as music), but neither has officially closed the book on OutKast so there’s still a sliver of hope that the group reconnects in the future for some more stupendous music.
Here’s one of my favorite songs by OutKast (though it’s André 3000’s song) in ‘Hey Ya.’ But please read after the video why ‘Hey Ya’ is actually a very sad song, and not the upbeat hit that you may believe it to be. I cannot embed the actual video from OutKast because of Vevo being very limited with where their videos can be posted, so here’s a lyric video. I hope it suffices.
Here is an excerpt from a 2012 Cracked.com piece on why ‘Hey Ya’ is a sound song:
At its core, “Hey Ya” is an incredibly sad song. The lyrics are basically an indictment of the entire idea of being in a relationship. Not just getting married, but being in a relationship at all. The “hero” of the song has found himself tied down to a woman that he no longer loves, and to make matters worse, it’s pretty clear she’s lost that feeling for him also. And that’s how, in the midst of one of the most deceivingly happy-sounding songs ever, a line like this found its way in:
“So why oh, why oh/Why oh, why oh, why oh/Why are we so in denial/When we know we’re not happy heeeerrreeee?”
If you’re not reading that and feeling bummed out, congrats on the contentment you feel about your current relationship or your belief that your current state of soul-crushing loneliness will someday come to an end.
Thanks for reading this weeks ‘Band of the Week’ piece. If you have any suggestions for a band that should be ‘Band of the Week’ next week, please comment below.
- Is OutKast Dropping A 20th Anniversary Project Next Year? (diamondsound.wordpress.com)
- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below Turns 10 (gregoryhaft.wordpress.com)
- “Aquemini” by OutKast (walkmemorylane.wordpress.com)
- Outkast- Stankonia (drkbear69.wordpress.com)
- The NME Top 500 Albums: 500. Stankonia- Outkast (benspindlerb.wordpress.com)