http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/10e4babec67d969df71bc84de5093cdc2e753ee7.jpg ATLiens



Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
October 31, 1996

The title of OutKast's second album suggests that the Atlantabased rap duo is spaced out on a P-Funk-style otherworldly trip. But ATLiens, like its platinum predecessor, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, is a gritty document of what's happening here and now, an up-to-the-minute briefing on Southern black ghetto life on which OutKast members Andre and Big Boi cast their feelings of alienation in familiar, realistic characterizations: jealous homeboys at the mall, conniving women, evil record-industry execs and those high-minded folks who view the successful pair merely as a couple of dangerous young black men.

The bluesy hit single "Elevators (Me and You)" showcases OutKast's verbal dexterity with a catchy hook propelled by sharp percussion licks — "Me and you, your momma and your cousin, too/Rollin' down the strip on vogues/Comin' up slammin' Cadillac doors" — while Andre and Big Boi trade tales of the envy and paranoia that inevitably accompany showbiz success. "Decatur Psalm," a slinky funk groove reminiscent of a '70s blaxploitation-flick score, is OutKast's state-of-the-black-community address on poverty, education, crime and black-on-black violence, a discourse intensified by a haunting vocal chorus. Against melancholic piano chords and sugary singing in the meditative "13th Floor/Growing Old," OutKast weave elements of Southern black folklore, ghetto gamesmanship and biblical teaching into a potent manifesto that echoes the crucial lesson in James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time: "No one is free when others are oppressed."

What distinguishes this record from the materialistic hedonism of much East Coast rap, and the gunplay and pimpism of its West Coast counterpart, is more than OutKast's Southern roots. On ATLiens — produced by the duo and Organized Noize (the crew responsible for TLC's chart-topping "Waterfalls") — Andre and Big Boi display a unique ability to describe ghetto life while offering up life-affirming possibilities, something all too rare in today's hip-hop nation.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Long Walk Home”

    Bruce Springsteen | 2007

    When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

    More Song Stories entries »