OutKast is an American hip hop duo based in East
Point, Georgia, consisting of Atlanta native André "André 3000" Benjamin
(formerly known as Dré) and Savannah, Georgia-born Antwan "Big
Boi" Patton. They were originally known as The OKB (The OutKast
Brothers) but later changed the group's name to OutKast. The group's
original musical style was a mixture of Dirty South and G-Funk.
Since then, however, funk, soul, rock, electronic music, spoken word
poetry, jazz, and blues elements have been added to the group's musical
The duo is one of the most successful hip-hop groups of all time,
having received six Grammy Awards. Over 25 million copies have been
sold of OutKast's eight releases: five studio albums, a greatest
hits release, and the Grammy Award-winning (for Best Album) Speakerboxxx/The
Love Below, a double album containing a solo album from each member.
Along with their commercial success, OutKast has maintained an experimental
approach in their music and are widely praised for their originality
and artistic content.
Benjamin and Patton met while attending Tri-Cities High School,
a Visual and Performing Arts School. Benjamin's parents were divorced
and he was living with his father. Meanwhile, Patton had to move
with his four brothers and six sisters from Savannah to Atlanta.
Benjamin and Patton eventually teamed up and were pursued by Organized
Noize, a group of local producers who would later make hits for TLC.
The duo initially wanted to be called "2 Shades Deep" or "The
Misfits", but because those names were already taken they later
decided to use "OutKast" based on finding "outcast" as
synonym for "misfit" in a dictionary. OutKast, Organized
Noize, and schoolmates Goodie Mob formed the nucleus of the Dungeon
OutKast signed to LaFace Records in 1992, becoming the label's first
hip hop act and making their first appearance on the remix of labelmate
TLC's "What About Your Friends". During the holiday season
of 1993, they released their first single, "Player's Ball".
The song's funky style, much of it accomplished with live instrumentation,
was a hit with audiences. "Player's Ball" hit number-one
on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart.
Their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, was issued on
April 26, 1994. This initial effort is credited with laying the foundation
for southern hip hop and is considered a classic by many hip hop
aficionados. Every track on Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was produced
by Organized Noize and featured other members of the Dungeon Family.
Follow-up singles included the title track and "Git Up Git Out",
a politically charged collaboration with Goodie Mob that was later
sampled by Macy Gray for her 1999 hit "Do Something." On
this early material, both André and Big Boi contrast lyrical
content reflecting the lifestyles of pimps and gangsters with politically
conscious material commenting on the status of African Americans
in the South. OutKast won Best New Rap Group at the Source Awards
in 1995. In the same year, the group contributed "Benz or
a Beamer" to the popular New Jersey Drive soundtrack.
ATLiens was OutKast's second album, released on August 27, 1996.
The album exhibited more self-consciousness, and further solidified
OutKast as the flagship representatives of the 1st generation Dungeon
Family and the Southern hip hop movement. The album helped the group
earn more recognition among East Coast hip hop fans in the East and
For this album, OutKast joined with partner David "Mr. DJ" Sheats
to form the Earthtone III production company, which allowed the group
to produce some of their own tracks. "ATLiens" was the
group's second Top 40 single (following "Player's Ball" from
their first album), and reflected the beginning of André's
increasingly sober lifestyle: "No drugs or alcohol/so I can
get the signal clear," he rhymes about himself in the single "ATLiens"
OutKast's third album Aquemini was released on September 29, 1998
and also reached the number-two position on the Billboard 200 album
chart in the United States; its title was a combination of the zodiac
signs of Big Boi (an Aquarius) and André (a Gemini). The album
was widely praised as possibly the group's best material to date:
when reviewed by popular hip-hop publication The Source, it received
the much-coveted "5 Mics" (out of five) rating.
Producing more material themselves, both Big Boi and André explored
more eclectic subject matter, delving into sounds inspired by soul,
trip hop, and electro music. The album featured production by Organized
Noize and collaborations with Raekwon, Slick Rick, funk pioneer and
musical forebear George Clinton, and Goodie Mob.
In 1999, OutKast and LaFace Records were sued by Rosa Parks over
the album's most successful radio single, which bore Parks' name
as its title. The lawsuit alleged that the song misappropriated Parks'
name, and also objected to some of the song's obscene language.
The song's lyrics were largely unrelated to Parks, save for a line
in the chorus: "Ah ha, hush that fuss / Everybody move to the
back of the bus". The song, which OutKast maintained was intended
partly as homage, only refers to Parks as a metaphor: the purpose
of the song's chorus is to imply that OutKast is overturning hip
hop's old order, that people should make way for a new style and
sound. The initial lawsuit was dismissed. Parks' representation hired
lawyer Johnnie Cochran to appeal the decision in 2001, but the appeal
was denied on First Amendment grounds. In 2003, the Supreme Court
turned down an appeal to overrule the lower court's decision.
In 2004, the judge in the case appointed an impartial representative
for Parks after her family expressed concerns that her caretakers
and her lawyers were pursuing the case based on their own financial
interest. Later that same year, the members of OutKast were dropped
as co-defendants, and Parks' lawyers continued to seek action against
LaFace and parent company BMG. In 2003 André told UK journalist
Angus Batey that, following a Detroit concert in the midst of the
legal battle, relatives of Parks had approached him and implied that
the case was less to do with Rosa than with the lawyers. The suit
was finally settled on April 14, 2005, with neither OutKast nor their
label having to admit any wrongdoing. The group did, however, have
to agree to perform some sort of tribute to Parks: as of August 2006,
the nature of this tribute had not been decided, and OutKast had
not completed it.
B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)"
In 2009, "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)" placed #1 on Pitchfork
Media's list of 500 Top Tracks of the 2000s
Problems listening to this file? See media help.
Originally titled "Sandbox", the pair's fourth album,
Stankonia was released in October 2000 to excellent reviews. The
album was seen as a change in the group's musical style, as it had
a more commercial and mainstream appeal, compared to their previous
three albums which were darker and deeper. It debuted at number two
on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., and would eventually be certified
quadruple-platinum. Stankonia's first single was "B.O.B. (Bombs
Over Baghdad)", a high-tempo jungle-influenced record. The second
single, "Ms. Jackson", combined a pop hook with lyrics
about divorce and relationship breakups, particularly André's
breakup with singer Erykah Badu; the titular "Ms. Jackson" character
being a doppelgänger for Badu's mother. It was at this time
that André changed his stage name to the current "André 3000".
The single became their first pop hit, landing the number-one position
on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the number-two position on the
UK Singles Chart. The album's final single was the Organized Noize-produced "So
Fresh, So Clean", featuring a credited guest appearance from
regular guest vocalist and Organized Noize-member Sleepy Brown and
garnered a remix featuring Snoop Dogg. All three singles' videos
had heavy MTV2 airplay, and OutKast won two 2001 Grammy Awards, one
for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Ms. Jackson",
and another for Stankonia as Best Rap Album.
During the recording of Stankonia OutKast and Mr. DJ began producing
tracks for the artists on their Aquemini Records imprint through
Columbia, including Slimm Cutta Calhoun and Killer Mike, who made
his debut on Stankonia's "Snappin' & Trappin."
Pitchforkmedia.com named Stankonia the 4th greatest album released
between 2000 and 2004 in its 2005 feature. Later on the webzine selected
Stankonia as the 13th best album of the 2000s. And B.O.B. was chosen
number one song of the decade by this same webzine. This was a
pivotal recording for hip-hop as "Ms. Jackson" featured
Andre 3000 singing in the middle of his verse.
 Even in Darkness and Greatest Hits
In December 2001, OutKast released a greatest hits album, Big Boi
and Dre Present...OutKast, which also contained three new tracks.
One of these new tracks was the single "The Whole World," which
won a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Killer Mike also was featured on the song, gaining some exposure
among areas outside of his native Atlanta. The other two new songs
were called "Funkin' Around" and "Movin' Cool (The
The same year OutKast participated in the only Dungeon Family group
album, Even in Darkness, along with Goodie Mob, Killer Mike, Sleepy
Brown, Witchdoctor, and Backbone among others, and featuring Bubba
Sparxxx, Shuga Luv and Mello. In 2002, the group and Killer Mike
contributed the lead single "Land of a Million Drums" to
the Scooby-Doo soundtrack.
 Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
In September 2003, OutKast released a double album, Speakerboxxx/The
Love Below. It is essentially two solo albums, one by each member,
packaged as a single release under the OutKast banner; the two members
also appear on each others' discs for a few songs apiece. Big Boi's
Speakerboxxx is largely a funk and Dirty South blended party record;
André 3000's The Love Below features only brief instances
of hip hop, presenting instead elements found in funk, jazz, rock,
electronic music, and R&B.
The album is also OutKast's biggest commercial success yet, having
debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at number-one and stayed
there for several weeks. The album eventually sold over five million
copies, and, as double-album sales count double for Recording Industry
Association of America certification, the album was certified diamond
for 10 million units shipped in December 2004. Its latest certification,
in May 2006, reaches 11 million copies in shipping.
The first two singles from the album(s), which were released nearly
simultaneously, were Big Boi's "The Way You Move" and André 3000's "Hey
Ya!" The video for "Hey Ya!" is based on The Beatles'
landmark appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The video's storyline
has "The Love Below"—a fictional band with all members,
through the use of special effects, played by André—performing
in London. "Hey Ya!" was the number one song on the very
final weekend of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. It was also number
one a week later on the very first weekend of American Top 40 with
Ryan Seacrest. The singles spent ten weeks at number one on the Hot
100 singles chart, with "Hey Ya!" spending nineteen weeks
and "The Way You Move" briefly taking over in February
2004. These singles were seen as a breakthrough for the hip-hop industry,
being among the first hip-hop songs to be widely played on adult
contemporary radio stations.
OutKast's next official single was not released until the summer
of 2004. "Roses", a track featuring both members from The
Love Below half of the album, did not meet the level of success as
either of its predecessors, but it became a modest-sized hit on urban
radio and the American music video networks. The video for "Roses" is
loosely based on the musicals West Side Story and Grease. It featured
sparring 1950s-style gangs, one representing Speakerboxxx, and one
representing The Love Below, parodying the widespread arguing among
critics and fans as to which half of the album was better. The final
singles were André 3000's "Prototype", which was
paired with a science fiction-themed video about alien visitors,
and Speakerboxxx's "Ghettomusick", which featured both
members of OutKast and a sample from a song by Patti LaBelle, who
also makes an appearance in the video.
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below won the Grammy Award for the 2004 Album
of the Year, becoming the first album consisting solely of hip-hop
to receive the honor (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
won best album in 1999 but was predominantly an R&B album). OutKast
was one of the headlining acts at the show, and gave two performances:
Big Boi and Andre performed "The Way You Move" with Earth,
Wind & Fire during a medley with George Clinton & P-Funk
and Robert Randolph and the Family Band, while André 3000
performed "Hey Ya!" as the show closed.
Between OutKast albums, Big Boi and André 3000 ventured into
film projects. André co-starred in John Singleton's action
film Four Brothers and also had a part in Be Cool, while Big Boi
took a featured role in the T.I. movie ATL. Both members also began
working on a joint film, Idlewild, directed by OutKast music video
director Bryan Barber. Idlewild, a Prohibition-era musical film set
to a blues-influenced hip-hop soundtrack, was released on August
25, 2006 by Universal Pictures. The Idlewild soundtrack was released
August 22, 2006. Its lead single, "Mighty 'O'", features
both OutKast members, and was briefly played exclusively on local
Atlanta radio stations before being issued as a single in May 2006.
They released and shot the video for "Morris Brown" instead.
A video for "Idlewild Blue (Don'tchu Worry 'Bout Me)" soon
Main article: OutKast discography
* Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994)
* ATLiens (1996)
* Aquemini (1998)
* Stankonia (2000)
* Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast (2001)
* Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
* Idlewild (2006)
 Grammy Awards
Year Category Title
2002 Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group "Ms. Jackson"
Best Rap Album Stankonia
2003 Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group "The Whole World"
2004 Album of the Year Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Best Urban/Alternative Performance "Hey Ya!"
Best Rap Album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Year Category Title
1999 Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group "Rosa Parks"
2002 Best Short-Form Music Video "Ms. Jackson"
Record of the Year
Album of the Year Stankonia
2004 Producer of the Year Non-Classical --
Best Short-Form Music Video "Hey Ya!"
Record of the Year
2007 Best Urban/Alternative Performance "Idlewild Blue (Don't
Chu Worry 'Bout Me)"
Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group "Mighty 'O'"
2008 Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group "Int'l Player's Anthem
(I Choose You)" w/ UGK