I’m a die hard Southern Hip-Hop fan. A Country Rap Tunes Connoisseur, if you will. So while I’ll forever ride behind the duo that is Underground Kingz, I want to talk about a different Southern rap duo- OutKast.
The pair, having joined forces in high school, looked up to other artists in Atlanta that came before them, like Kilo Ali. The day they were introduced to the trio of super producers known as Organized Noize, both Andre 3000 and Big Boi rapped for about 6o minutes each. The two were both so metaphorically sound, that Organized Noize had to take them to the infamous Dungeon.
The Dungeon was actually Rico Wade’s mother’s basement, but it’s where all of the magic happened. Organized Noize would collaborate with OutKast, which would eventually lead to a new funky, futuristic sound for hip-hop. Throughout this time at The Dungeon, no one had a job, so the group would just stay there for days and days at a time. As Big Boi puts it, “It was just one big slumber party, seven days a week.”
At this time, Organized Noize had already been discovered by LaFace Records, so The Dungeon Family, had a hand in seeing OutKast succeed. Towards the holidays, the group gets a call, saying that the label is going to make a Christmas album. This is when the song Playas Ball was created. What’s interesting about this song, is that it plays into the narrative of old Atlanta lore about Black hustlers and pimps at the time. The creation of the song is almost anti Christmas in a way- the duo focuses on the fact that while many would be celebrating Christmas, it was just another day of work for most. People still needed to hustle to survive, even on Christmas day.
Individually, the duos sound was so different from each other, but worked so well together at the same time. Big Boi is a wordsmith. Often underrated in his craft, Big Boi has the same effect as Lil Wayne- he puts words together into metaphors, that you might not catch instantly, but it leaves a lasting effect that keeps you wondering. Andre was always the one who was a bit more eclectic. Andre’s approach to the music was a little more philosophical.
After the success of Playas Ball, L.A. Reid gets with Rico, and lets him know that Outkast needs to make an album. This conversation led to the creation of SouthernPlayaListiCadallicMuzik in 1994. It was a long process of making beats and laying vocals. Everyone, Organized Noize, The Dungeon Family and OutKast had all hands on deck- everyone wanted to see success.
The album was not only excellent sonically, but it was something you could feel. You could feel the Southern/Country vibes. Git Up, Git Out was one of the few singles on the album; considering mainstream hip-hop wasn’t readily introduced to the sound. Radio programmers across the country would just refer to them as “country,” and they weren’t trying to play that “country shit.”
If you recall, the Second Annual Source Awards is where Outkast placed their stamp on hip-hop. At the time, the award show was very New York, and the East Coast/West Coast beef was alive and well- so the third coast hadn’t established their space in the industry- yet.
When they announced that Outkast won the award for Best New Artist, everyone was in shock. Amidst all of the current rap beef, the duo was booed as they walked onstage to receive their award. The two attempted to be diplomatic at first, paying homage to New York, but it wasn’t until Andre 3000 took a stance that put the South on the map, that changed hip-hop for the better. Andre starts off by thanking God, and then begins his speech.
“I’m tired of folks, you know what I’m saying? The close-minded folks, you know? We’ve got a demo tape and nobody want to hear it, but it’s like this- the South got something to say that’s all I got to say.”
The speech made by Big Boi and Andre only helped amplify the need for Southern artists to strive to be much better than the rest. From then on, the South had something to prove to everyone, and they were determined to get their point across. Outkast opened the door for alternative, indie hip-hop. The duo’s sound was so different from what was mainstream at the time. The duo achieved mainstream success and consistently experimented with different sounds- jazz, funk, psychedelia and even bits of techno. The group has received 6 Grammy Awards, and sold over 25 million records.
Before Atlanta became this hub for hip-hop music, there was Organized Noize, and the Dungeon Family. Although Atlanta’s sound has shifted greatly from this, the use of futuristic techno-like sound still exists today for prominent Atlanta-based artists. But with Atlanta’s roots in hip-hop being mostly trap, in order to maintain a somewhat unique sound, you’ve seen a few rappers bite off the style of artists in other states and cities- especially sounds in none other than Houston, Texas.