Trevor’s Top Ten Outkast Tracks

by Trevor Tompkins

Catlin Gabel School, Catlin Speak

The rap duo that put Southern hip-hop on the map is officially reuniting for a 2014 concert tour and will be performing April 11th-13th and April 18th-20th at The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. For Outkast fans, this news comes with great excitement in hope that performances at Coachella 2014 will eventually lead to new music. Despite various side projects, Outkast has not officially released an album since 2006, leaving fans hungry for more.  Ever since Andre 3000 declared that, “The South got something to say” at the 1995 Source Awards, Outkast’s legacy has been forever engraved in the stone of hip-hop.

In honor of the legendary duo’s 2014 return, here are my  top 10 Outkast songs of all time.

No. 10: Ms. Jackson – Stankonia (2001)

Who ever said a rap song couldn’t be used as an apology? In this chart-topping hit, Andre 3000 raps about his relationship struggles with Erykah Badu. He apologizes to Erykah’s mother with one of the catchiest hooks in all of hip-hop. Then, he makes sure to state, “know that everything’s cool/ And yes, I will be present on the first day of school, and graduation.” This song became Outkast first song to top the Billboard 100 and launched the group into a new audience of listeners.

No. 9: Elevators (Me & You) – ATLiens (1996)

After releasing a platinum debut album it can be difficult to reproduce the same chemistry on the second album. This song was the first single released off of Outkast critically acclaimed second album, “ATLiens.” This song came out at a time when the group was experiencing more mainstream success and rapper Big Boi eludes to that with the simile, “We moving on up in the world like elevators.”

No. 8: Da Art of Storytellin’, Pt. 1 – Aquemini (1998)

Big Boi and Andre 3000 both flaunt their ability to weave together vivid narrative stories through rhyming in this lyrical masterpiece. Andre depicts a very touching story about his childhood through a verse in which he raps, “I coulda died, time went on, I got grown/ Rhyme got strong, mind got blown, I came back home.”

No. 7: Wheelz of Steel – ATLiens (1996)

This song features rare back and forth rhyming between the two emcees. Big Boi starts off the song with the classic line, “Once upon a time not long ago/ When the playa from the point didn’t have no flow.” Andre 3000’s fast-paced delivery is on full display with the sequence, “The Pope and his folks got us under a scope/ But for unknown reasons cause we don’t sell dope/ That you distribute, we don’t contribute, to your clandestine activity.” “Wheelz of Steel” also contains an addictive instrumental that samples, “Focus III,” by Focus.

No. 6: Ain’t No Thang – Southernplayaliscticcaddilacmuzik (1994)

Unlike most songs by Outkast, this classic track off of their debut album contains more aggressive and confrontational lyrics. Back in 1994 before Outkast was widely recognized and critically acclaimed they felt the need to prove themselves. With a simple but captivating chorus and an old school instrumental Big Boi tells us, “I be busting caps like my amp be busting speakers/ So how do you figure that Big Boi be scared to blast you/ You supposed to be the quickest draw, but man, I hail em faster.”

No. 5: Return of the “G” – Aquemini (1998)

The first track on Outkast multi-platinum selling third album speaks directly to critics of emcee Andre 3000. At the time of this albums release many people were questioning Andre’s decisions, choices, and even sexuality. In response to all the criticism, Andre viciously raps, “Let’s talk about time traveling, rhyme javelin/ something mind unraveling, get down!”

No. 4: D.E.E.P – Southernplayalisticcaddilacmuzik (1994)

On the closing track of Outkast debut album Andre 3000 goes into lyrical overdrive. In the third verse of the song, Andre launches one of the most scathing attacks on the popular conscious stereotypes of black people in America. He cleverly illustrates the stereotypical black man by rapping, “Ya’ll think I’m stupid cause I shoots em’ up like cupid/ And if you gave me a basketball, I’ll show you how to shoot it/ My head’s polluted cause I’m zooted, bobbin to the bottom/ If a pair of Jordan’s came out, ya’ll figure that I got em.” After setting up this stereotype he makes sure to shed some light on the reality that, “But no I don’t because I don’t be having funds/ The gold that I am wearing is really made out of bronze/ It weighs a ton and making my neck turn green/ And I got a criminal record that will never come clean.” The relevance of the topics that Andre chose to rap about coupled with his exquisite lyricism and delivery make this song an undeniable classic among Outkast fans.

No. 3: Players Ball – Southernplayalisticcaddilacmuzik (1994)

This throwback jam was the first official single by Outkast, released way back in 1992. At the time, Big Boi and Andre 3000 were only 18 years old and they were asked to write a Christmas song for their debut single and the song would appear on a La Face records Christmas album. Instead of rapping about traditional Christmas customs, the two rappers verses depict an average day in their lives. Big Boi raps about the struggles he faces as a drug dealer and how he dosen’t get a day off by rapping, “It’s just another day of work to me the spirit just ain’t in me/ Grab my pistol and my ounce see what them junkies gotta give me/ Cause it’s like that.” This song clearly illustrates some of the evils of living in urban ghettos and eventually led to Outkast signing on La Face records and recording an album.

No 2: ATLiens – ATLiens (1996)

The title track off of Outkast second album features one of the groups catchiest hooks ever. Andre repeats, “Now throw your hands in the air/ And wave them like you just don’t care/ And if you like fish n’ grits and all the pimp sh*t/ Everybody let me here you say oh yeah,” for the songs hook and his words can’t help but get glued in your head. The “ATLiens” single reached as high as 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 songs and is regarded as a classic track in the hip-hop community.

No 1: Rosa Parks – Aquemini (1998)

Outkast’s best song ever uses the name of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Big Boi delivers the groups catchiest hook of all time by repeating the lines, “Ah hah, hush that fuss/ Everybody move to the back of the bus/ Do you want to bump and slump with us/ We the type of people make the club get crunk.” The song was the lead single off of their third album and further established Outkast presence in the mainstream music industry. After this songs release, Outkast was legitimized as the pioneers of Southern hip-hop. Andre 3000 spits what some consider one of the greatest verses of all time. With lines like, “I met a gypsy and she hipped me to some life game/ To stimulate and activate the left and right brain,” its not hard to see why some consider this verse the greatest. Also, the beat break of this song features distinctive Southern harmonica, an instrument which is scarcely heard throughout the hip-hop world.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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