Outkast Turn Hip-Hop Conventions Inside Out - Rolling Stone
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Outkast Turn Hip-Hop Conventions Inside Out

They’re hardly exiles from success and acclaim.
Outkast, whose third and latest album,
Aquemini, has been levitating in the Top Ten since it
debuted three weeks ago, have been about breaking barriers from day
one. “We sat down at Big Boi‘s table and looked
through the dictionary for a word that meant totally different from
everybody else,” explains Dre, half of the Atlanta
hip-hop duo. “That’s how we came up with the word outcast. We were
doing rhymes for people in the hood that were totally different
from what was going on in Atlanta.”

From the Parliament-inspired funk and live
instrumentation of their acclaimed debut
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzi, to the spacey keyboards of
their sophomore effort, ATF and the musically rich,
genre-defying feel of Aquemini, Outkast create their own
brand of innovative hip-hop with no mind to sales or trends.
“They’ve consistently elevated southern music masterfully without
compromise,” says Ahmir Thompson of the
Roots. “If A Tribe Called Quest
were a southern group, they’d be Outkast.”

The secret ingredient: funk. And according to the group, elements
are added to the recipe in accordance to what hip-hop needs at the

“There’s a lot of uninteresting music going on in the industry
right now,” says Big Boi. “A lot of sampling and raping of the
music. What we tried to do was put something new, fresh and
improved in the game. We use very few samples, and if we do sample,
you’ll never ever know where it came from because it’s switched and
warped so many different ways that we’ve created a whole new sound
out of it. It’ll never sound nothing like the original, and we’d
never use the whole thing.”

It’s that unique sonic fusion that has critics raving over
Aquemini, including Rolling Stone (four stars)
and The Source (five ‘mics’). It’s not shocking, though,
given Outkast’s knack for transcending regional boundaries.

“It’s about having fun and dropping time capsules that paint a
picture of what’s going on in the world,” says Dre. “We never want
to be just straight local. When we started making music we wanted
to get everybody on the planet to hear it. We reflect emotion, not
just what’s happening on your street.”

In This Article: Outkast


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