“The world doesn't need another clothing company but it does need a certain funk.” Andre 3000
One of the most flourishing hip hop duos in America, Outkast, comprising of André 3000 and Big Boi, has sold over 23 million units in the U.S. alone, with over 11 million units sold from their most successful album to date “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” (2003). In addition to being a chart topper on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, the record also earned the duo Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album, Album of the Year, and Best Urban/Alternative Performance (for the single “Hey Ya!”). The two also won three Grammy Awards for the 2002 album “Stankonia” and the singles “Ms. Jackson” (2001) and “The Whole World” (2001). “The Way You Move” (2003), “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya” were No. 1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Ms. Jackson” was also a No. 1 hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Hot Rap Songs. Other popular hits include “Player's Ball” (1993), “Elevators (Me & You)” (1996), “Roses” (2004) and the Grammy nominees “Rosa Parks” (1998), “Idlewild Blue (Don't Chu Worry 'Bout Me)” and “Mighty 'O” (both 2006).
Founded in 1992, Outkast put Atlanta, Georgia, on the hip hop map and redefined the Dirty South and G-Funk music styles with their intense melodies, complex lyrics and content. The twosome has added funk, soul, rock, electronic music, poetry, jazz, and blues components to their musical range.
Childhood and Family:
The story of Outkast began in Atlanta, Georgia, where André 3000 (born André Lauren Benjamin on May 27, 1975, in Atlanta) and Big Boi (born Antwan André Patton on February 1, 1975, in Savannah) were attending Tri-Cities High School, a visual and performing art school. At the time, Benjamin was living with his father in Atlanta after the divorce of his parents and Patton lived with his 10 siblings. The two quickly discovered a common liking for hip hop and funk and decided to form a rap group. Formerly dubbed 2 Shades Deep and The Misfits, they then took the name Outkast because the previous names were already used. The boys began recording in a basement studio under the direction of the Organized Noize production team, who is famous for producing hits for Xscape and TLC.
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
In 1992, Outkast signed a contract with LaFace Records, a label founded by Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and became the first hip hop act signed by the label. First making a guest appearance on the remix of TLC's “What About Your Friends,” Outkast eventually launched their debut single, “Player's Ball,” in 1993. Produced by Organized Noize, the self written song was an audience favorite and rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart and made the top 20 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (#12). The song also rose to No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Player's Ball” was certified gold by RIAA.
Outkast's first studio album, “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” was released on February 15, 1994, and rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 20 on the Billboard 200. The single “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” followed on June 20, 1994, and went to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks, No. 41 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and No. 74 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single “Git Up, Git Out,” featuring Goodie Mob, was released on October 10, 1994. It peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart and No. 59 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” eventually received platinum certification from RIAA.
In 1995, Outkast picked up a Source Award in the category of Best New Rap Group. The same year, the group also performed the song “Phobia” on the soundtrack to John Singleton's drama “Higher Learning” (1995), which starred Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, Ice Cube, Jennifer Connelly and Laurence Fishburne. In addition, they contributed “Benz or a Beame” to the “New Jersey Drive” soundtrack.
On August 27, 1996, Outkast resurfaced with the sophomore release “ATLiens,” which the group co-produced with Organized Noize. The album received critical acclaim and became a chart topper on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It also made the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 (#2). The album produced the group's next No. 1 hit with the lead single “Elevators (Me & You)” (1996). The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Elevators (Me & You)” became Outkast's second gold single after “Player's Ball.” Released on November 11, 1996, the follow up single “ATLiens” peaked at No. 8, No. 23 and No. 35 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks, the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Billboard Hot 100, respectively. The song also appeared on the FOX police series “New York Undercover.” The single “Jazzy Belle” (1997) rose to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Rap tracks, No. 25 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album “ATLiens” was finally certified double platinum in the U.S. and went gold in Canada.
In 1997, Outkast contributed “In Due Time” (featuring Cee-Lo) and “Everlasting” to the soundtracks of the films “Soul Food” and “Nothing to Lose,” respectively. They also produced the first track. Also that year, they were featured on the Witchdoctor debut album “A S.W.A.T. Healin’ Ritual” on the song “Dez Only 1.”
Although receiving notice and recognition, Outkast did not enjoy mainstream popularity until they launched the album “Aquemini” on September 29, 1998. The album went to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and earned primarily favorable reviews from music critics. It was also named one of Rolling Stone's “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” (#5000). “Aquemini” went platinum within two months of its release (November 1998) and was certified double platinum on July 2, 1999. It also became the group's second gold release in Canada, where the album peaked at No. 17. “Aquemini” yielded three singles with “Rosa Parks,” “Skew It on the Bar-B” and “Da Art of Storytellin' (Pt. 1).” “Rosa Parks” was a minor success on the Billboard Hot 100, but earned a 1999 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group. The song also charted at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs and No. 4 on the Billboard Rhythmic Top 40. It became the most successful radio single from the album. Due to the song's title, which comes from the civil rights activist Rosa Parks, the group and their producer and record labels faced a lawsuit from Parks in 1999. After six years, on April 14, 2000, the suit was eventually settled with Outkast and LaFace paying Parks an unrevealed settlement and agreeing to support the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute.
Meanwhile, during 1998-1999, Outkast made guest appearances in Monica's album “The Boy is Mine” on the song “Gone Be Fine,” the Goodie Mob album “Still Standing” on the track “Black Ice,” the Cool Breeze album “East Point's Greatest Hits” (also featuring Goodie Mob & Witchdoctor) on “Watch For The Hook,” and the Slick Rick album “The Art of Storytelling” on “Street Talkin'.” They also appeared on “Smokefest 1999” from the Tash album “Rap Life” and “Throw Your Hands Up” from the Eightball & MJG album “In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1.” Along with Slimm Cutta Calhoun, Outkast performed “High Schoolin” for the “Light It Up” Soundtrack.
Outkast received further mainstream popularity with the fourth studio album “Stankonia.” Launched on October 31, 2000, the album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It also charted in Canada (#4), the United Kingdom (#10), Ireland (#29) and Australia (#33) and was certified 4X platinum by RIAA and double platinum in Canada. It won a Grammy for Best Rap Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. “Stankonia” spawned the singles “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” (2000), “Ms. Jackson” (2001) and “So Fresh, So Clean” (2001). “Ms. Jackson” became the group's biggest hit from the album when it rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Hot Rap Songs, No. 2 in the U.K. and Australia, and No. 9 on the Canadian Singles Chart. It won a 2002 Grammy for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group and additional nominations for Record of the Year and Best Short-Form Music Video.
On December 4, 2001, Outkast released their first compilation album, “Big Boi and Dre Present...Outkast.” It peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and went platinum. They then received a Grammy for Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group.
In 2002, Outkast performed “Land of a Million Drums” with Killer Mike & Sleepy Brown for the “Scooby-Doo” soundtrack. The song made the Top 50 on the U.K. Singles chart and charted at No. 116 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
In 2003, The rap duo returned with the new studio album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” which was released on September 23. Comprising of a solo album from both of the group's members (“Speakerboxxx” is the solo project of Big Boi while “The Love Below” is André 3000's), the album got general kudos from music critics and was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It won Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Rap Album. “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” has been certified diamond and 11X platinum by RIAA.
The single “Hey Ya,” by André 3000, went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. The song also nabbed Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Best Short-Form Music Video. “The Way You Move,” recorded by Big Boi (featuring Outkast's mentor Sleepy Brown), also charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Rap Songs and No. 2 on the US R&B chart. The album also spawned the Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 single “Roses” (#9).
Outkast's sixth studio album, “Idlewild,” a follow up to the highly successful “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” hit the music stores on August 22, 2006. It also functioned as the soundtrack companion album to the group's musical film “Idlewild” (2006), which was directed and written by Bryan Barber. The album rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 2 on the Billboard 200. It has been certified platinum by RIAA. Two singles from the album, “Idlewild Blue (Don't Chu Worry 'Bout Me)” and “Mighty 'O,” were nominated for Grammys in the categories of Best Urban/Alternative Performance and Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group, respectively. Outkast was also featured on UGK's single “International Players Anthem (I Choose You),” from the album “Underground Kingz” (2007). The single earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group.
Grammy: Album of the Year, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” 2004
Grammy: Best Rap Album, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” 2004
Grammy: Best Urban/Alternative Performance, “Hey Ya,” 2004
Grammy: Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group, “The Whole World,” 2003
Grammy: Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group, “Ms. Jackson,” 2002
Grammy: Best Rap Album, “Stankonia,” 2002