In the first entry of this blog series, I referred to the timelessness of a classic. OutKast is timeless. Their music, their artistry, and their cultural impact elevates them to iconic status. The Blues has Bobby Blue Bland. Rock & Roll has The Rolling Stones. Rhythm & Blues has Stevie Wonder. Pop has Michael Jackson and among other Hip Hop Icons, there is OutKast.
Like the culture that they embody, they too have evolved a great deal over time. Don't believe me? Let's do a quick re-cap:
1995 - Benz or Beamer
I'm just a fan, so I am not privy to the inside scoop; yet, I think the song was recorded prior to southernplaylistic.... But the video captures the time between their first two albums. In some ways, you can tell their growth from Playas Ball even though they hadn't become otherworldly ATLiens yet. Around this time, I had grown from wasted hours cruising Belle Isle or Seven Mile, but hadn't fully landed with both feet into adulthood. Looking back, some of the fashion, habits, and choices of that time seem as silly as the folks in the end of the video doing the Bankhead Bounce. But at the time, we all thought we were cooler than a fan. Young adulthood - smh - you gotta love it.
1997 - In Due Time
Patience - the measure of a mature adult. Show me an impatient person and I'll show you an immature individual. Real men and women have learned a thing or two about the necessity of and fruits that stem from patience.
That doesn't mean the development of patience is easy; nope, far from it. The process of developing patience is helped with encouragement. It's especially helpful if that encouragement is soulfully crooned by Cee-Lo. It is also noteworthy to consider the parallels between Cee-Lo and Andre 3000, but that's another story for another day.
1998 - Black Ice
One the bangers on the awesome second album by the Goodie Mob. At this time, there isn't much distance between this recording and the time they all spent living in the Dungeon. Perhaps that explains the synergy between Big Gipp (of the Goodie Mob) and OutKast. That synergy reminds me of how although I went away for college, whenever I was home, I fell right in with my old friends, never missing a beat. We had grown enough to begin charting our own direction but not so far apart that our vibe was broken.
The Big Boi and Dre Presents ... Greatest Hits album was always a short oasis as fans traversed the desert toward the next OutKast cd. I know that along with countless others, we appreciate it for introducing Killer Mike to the world.
2004 - I Can't Wait
It was around this time that I fully recognized the soulful contributions of Sleepy Brown to Organized Noise and the early OutKast that spoke to my heart. Too many of us slept on Sleepy, but that doesn't diminish dude's talent. I Can't Wait dropped after Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below and we all had adapted to the uniqueness of Andre 3000 and Big Boi. While keeping our fingers crossed about future music.
To heap additional criticism upon Idlewild is fruitless. For any other artist, it would have been exceptional. But for OutKast, the bar was so high, I can't say that it was impossible to reach again; yet, I will say that it was perhaps an unfair expection. Unfair in the sense that the expectation became a liability. The movie and soundtrack were visionary and creative. I certainly would rather watch Idlewild before State Property, Belly, or I'm 'Bout It. I will go further to say, that while I enjoyed 8 Mile, if my hometown sentiment was deducted, I'd give the nod to Idlewild.
2007 - International Player's Anthem
First, this joint tapped into the nostalgic memories of my freshman year of college when UGK's Too Hard To Swallow was on steady replay. When the beat drops on this track - it drops in a major way! All kinds of thump for the trunk! Yet, it goes without saying that Andre 3000's verse just about steals the show. The imagery, metaphors, and overall witty wordplay is, as the old heads (read: people my age) would say - "Bananas!" or "Off The HOOK!!!"
At that time, I didn't realize it would be one of the last times we would hear Dre and Big Boi on the same track. Perhaps it was overlooked due the passing of UGK's Pimp C shortly thereafter. True story - I was working as a church administrator when I heard the news of Pimp C's death. I went into our adminstrative team meeting and one of my colleagues noticed my detached dispostion. She inquired as to what was wrong. I replied, "Pimp C died." She, the pastor, and the others in the meeting were sort-of blank faced. They weren't quite sure what to make of my mourning of Pimp C. I should have been mourning the-somewhat-last-victory-lap of my favorite hip hop group, OutKast. To paraphrase the advice given in the song, they kept their heart and played their part and we were the beneficiaries of thier timeless contributions.
So after all this time, we can go back to Big Rube's question on the first album, "Are you an outcast?"
"I know I am..."