IF OUTKAST WERE NOT A MULTIPLATINUM-SELLING HIP-HOP group, they would make a great cop-buddy movie. Even before Big Boi and André 3000 released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below — a double album that was, for all intents and purposes, two solo albums — the pair were such a notorious odd couple, their partnership could’ve been scripted. As anyone who has followed the duo’s career knows by this point, OutKast’s core dynamic puts a teetotaling vegan dandy (André 3000) in the same blunt-smoke-filled squad car as a playa for life with a fondness for pit bulls, oversize bracelets and extremely comfortable leisurewear (Big Boi).
When Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was released last fall, with Big Boi and André 3000 each more or less sticking to their halves of the jewel box, it felt like a trial separation that everyone knows is headed for divorce court. They did (and still do) solo interviews to promote the album. André 3000 had left Atlanta for L.A. to pursue an acting career and insisted he had no plans on touring. Big Boi said that Dré always says he won’t tour, and that he’d eventually come around.
He hasn’t. To complicate things further, the album has become the biggest of their career — eight times platinum and counting, with simultaneously released hit singles and, now, three Grammys, including Album of the Year. André 3000’s “Hey Ya!,” which features no rapping at all (like much of The Love Below), has become one of the rare crossover singles that can be regularly heard on hip-hop, rock and Top Forty radio. Most recently, they received the ultimate nod of mass-cultural acceptance: They’ve been invited to appear on Oprah.