Flashback: Outkast Storm the Charts With 'Ms. Jackson' - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Outkast Storm the Charts With ‘Ms. Jackson’

Amazing track was a rare gem during a particularly bad moment in music history

November of 2000 was a very traumatic time for America. The presidential election essentially ended in a tie, leading to a full-fledged Constitutional crisis that was only resolved when the Supreme Court put aside any illusion of nonpartisanship and handed the White House to George W. Bush the following month.

Hollywood did little to sooth the nation, releasing dreck like 102 Dalmatians, Charlie’s Angels, Red Planet, Men of Honor, The Legend of Bagger Vance and Adam Sandler’s Little Nicky. The biggest movie in the country was How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which introduced America to Taylor Momsen, who played Cindy Lou Who.

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Things weren’t much better on the pop charts. Creed‘s “With Arms Wide Open” was the Number One song in the country, and Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” was climbing up the charts. 98 Degrees didn’t realize the Latin pop boom was coming to an end, and they released “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche).” (Believe it or not, four white guys from Cincinnati couldn’t quite pull that one off.)  Brace yourself for this next one . . . the Number One album was Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. We’d made such progress the previous month when Radiohead debuted at Number One with Kid A, but all that was instantly erased by Limp Bizkit’s triumph.

Amid all the political chaos and cultural mediocrity, the annual World AIDS Day Concert was staged at New York’s Beacon Theater. The Baha Men, 98 Degrees, Usher, Jessica Simpson and Pink were all on the bill, but Outkast completely stole the show with a killer performance with “Ms. Jackson.” The Atlanta duo had dropped Stankonia the previous month, and “Ms. Jackson” was just beginning to blow up on radio. It made most everything else on Top 40 radio seem limp by comparison.

The rest of the decade could have belonged to Outkast, but Andre 3000 and Big Boy soon drifted apart. 2003’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was amazing, but it was essentially two solo albums cobbled together. The two returned three years later with the movie Idlewild, but it wasn’t exactly embraced by the public. There are constant rumors of a reunion; in the meantime, check out this video for a great reminder of a time when Outkast seemed to be just about the only thing in music that mattered.

In This Article: Outkast


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