Southern Hip Hop duo Outkast have achieved massive international success and critical acclaim since there inception in 92. Selling millions of records and winning several Grammy awards they have truly secured their place in Hip Hops elite. My memory of this group was all positive, fantastic singles like "Bombs Over Bagdad", "So Fresh, So Clean" and "Ms. Jackson" used to play on MTV in my youth and I had no reason not to check their discography out. After listening to "Stankonia" I decided to go back to where it began for the group on this their debut, released in the creative prime of Hip Hops classic 90s era.
The southern scene is one I'm still grasping and understanding, what I expected of a southern group was not present on this record. What I found was funky, stylish and reminiscent of the west coast G-Funk sound, but of its closest comparisons Outkast genuinely define their own sound on this record. The production from Organized Noise fuses elements of Funk and Soul with a Psychedelic touch into a Hip Hop package that Andre and Big Boi compliment with their slick rapping and high pitched, "Players Ball", vocal leads. The chemistry creates a powerful, smooth and stylish cultural indulgence. Its a relaxing listen, one that shifts the gears from the bombastic and aggressive momentum that Hip Hop was moving in. Outkast slow it down and swoon us with their confident, laid back attitude. In retrospect this record sounds a step ahead of its time, theres a much larger focus on the non-percussive instruments themselves, including a slick, exotic guitar solo which does nothing but compliment the track "Funky Ride" and other soulful sounds, and some electronic elements too.
Lyrically, Andre & Big Boi deliver plenty of engaging story telling verses, with smooth flows and annunciations. Their charm on this record is the appreciation of what comes between, not bombarding us with verse after verse, the duo drop some classic choruses and interludes that break up the pace. Their overall tone was much lighter than the misogynist and violent contexts found on some other records of the era. Altogether the duo drop a dynamic and thoughtful debut that takes a step forward instrumentally that gives this album a freedom to focus more on its less traditional elements. Its an indulging listen, one I've enjoyed immensely.
Favorite Tracks: Ain't No Thang, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Players Ball, Funky Ride, Hootie Hoo