Fri. November 07.2003 3:27 PM EST
OutKast: Two is the Magic Number
The crazed Atlanta MCs are hip-hop's hottest outfit at the moment. Big Boi and Dre pick the best songs on each other's disc, and lament the lack of humor in rap.
by Brian Ives & C. Bottomley
You might say OutKast divided to conquer. When we first learned that Big Boi and Andre 3000s next release was going to be a double album with each artist working separately, it seemed certain the end had come. Hearing their two-sided single didnt
The OKast yin-yang, it appeared, had finally collapsed. Was it all that shocking? Bois a pit bull breeder and hard rhymer with the strippers pole in his basement. Dres taste in cosmic funk - enhanced at various points by both feather boas and Ralph Lauren outfits - implies a major addiction to peyote brownies. Such contrary forces had given us crystalline moments of hip-hop brilliance, like Rosa Parks and Miss Jackson. But like Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, surely these opposites had reached critical mass.
When Speakerboxxx/The Love Below finally arrived, the differences were made plain. Big Boi: fur mantle, Jay-Z and Ludacris cameos, and an ass-thumping 808. Dre 3000: Sex, sex, jazz and more sex, spiked with the few moves neither George Clinton nor Prince had yet to think up. Underneath it all was one truth: OutKast are and always will be more out-there than a space shuttle full of pop rocks.
So what if, after 11 years of funking up turntables together, Bois hitting the road on his own? Who else is bizarre enough to dare these guys to greatness than themselves? The combination of the album's chart-topping success and the group's current media blitz suggests millions are finally picking up their freak-quency, too. The guys visited VH1 to review each others album, explain the secrets behind their videos, and lament the fact that hip-hop has lost its sense of humor.
VH1: What were your responses on hearing each other's record?
Big Boi: I was blown away.
Andre 3000: There was some amazing sh*t going on. The Love Below started out as a solo project, but every time I did a song, I came to the studio and Im like, Check this out. What do you think? Big Boi would be like, Thats jamming, man! When Big Boi would record a song, he would be like, Check this out! I would be like, God! Thats jamming! It was almost like being a fan of OutKast and being in the group, Im hearing songs like for the first time, so Im like a fan of OutKast! Like, God! Wheee!
B: When I first got Dres whole record, I must have called him like five times. [Mimicking talking into a phone:] Hey boy! You lost your mind on this one! Im tellin ya! Hed call right back, [saying] Damn! Whats wrong with you? [Id be] like, Man, its incredible, man. Im just blown away. I cant believe it. [Watch Clip]
VH1: What are your favorite songs from each others albums?
A: Off of Speakerboxxx? Reset and Ghetto Musick are my favorites.
B: One of my favorite songs from The Love Below is Draculas Wedding. Also, Spread. I like all of them. It just depends from day-to-day.
VH1: There was talk about a possible split for months. Did that add pressure to the recording?
B: What [started] people talking was us doing press before people was hearing the music. They figured, Two separate CDs, its like they going their separate ways. Then theyd play into that. On the cover of magazines, they would be like, OutKast breaking up! Then inside, it would be like, Naw, they aint breaking up. So they kind of fed that fire. All that did was cause people to talk. By the time the album came out, they found out, Well, I guess theyre not breaking up. That just added to the hype.[Watch Clip]
A: Thats what went down. Im so glad that we kept the albums together. Because in hip-hop history, people do their own separate thing, like EPMD go off and do their certain things. Thats when people start to say, Well, theyre splitting up. But it was like a one-off project. I just really home-jammed songs and we really just wanted to get our own space at a certain time. Thats what it was about.
VH1: What is The Way You Move, the song and the video, about?
B: You could say its about the way a woman moves, or you might like the way a person has her business in life, but the video is basically about the sensuality and beauty of a woman. The video is like a real trip into that whole funk moment, capitalizing and utilizing the images of the woman, from the hips to the lips to the face to everything else. Its a really psyched-out, colorful trip.
VH1: You must get a lot of people asking, Where can I get my car fixed?
B: Well, really we get a lot of people asking, Wheres that girl? [Laughs.]
VH1: How about Hey Ya!?
A: Hey Ya! is an upbeat, breakneck jam about the state of relationships today. A lot of people stay together for tradition. All Im saying is I think its more important to be happy than to meet up to somebody elses expectations or the worlds expectations of what a relationship should be. So this is a celebration of how men and women relate to each other in the 2000s. But you wouldnt know that if you just dancing all night. You really have to sit down and listen to it.
VH1: What was the idea behind the video?
A: I did lead vocals, played guitar, and programmed the beats, sung background vocals, and all that type of stuff. It was like, if I created my own band, what would it look like? Thats why I played every character in the band. Me and Brian Barber rode around California one day just listening to the song. It was like a last minute thing, because that wasnt supposed to be the single. But it was jamming so hard one day, I was like, This is it. So a lot of times, last minute decisions are the best ones.
VH1: Did you have specific singers or musicians when you were playing the different band members?
A: Honestly, all the moves that I had done on the video were created on the spot, because that whole week I was trying to finish the album. I wanted to choreograph my own moves that I was doing, but I didnt have time. The video crept up on me. The day of the video, Im like, Brian, aw man, I didnt make up my moves. So I was like, This is what you do. Just turn the music up, like real loud, like as loud as you can stand it. And I just acted the real breakneck, and tore it up. Made up everything on the spot. It was pretty much just out of being nervous. [Watch Clip]
VH1: Do you know what the next single or video might be?
A: Honestly, no. To tell the truth, I think this is the hardest single-picking deal that we had. You have DJs that come in and say, Im telling you! This is it! Then you have a DJ from another part of the country thats saying, No, this is it! Theres so many opinions and good songs. Im blessed that we have good songs to pick from, but Jesus!
B: Its hard. It changes every day. Yesterday it was Bowtie. Today Im thinking Church. [To Dre:] I know you were saying Prototype.
VH1: Whats the deal with touring?
B: Well, Dres gonna take a little hiatus off of touring. Ive actually been touring, and have a 25-city House of Blues tour coming up at the top of the year. If theres something that we want to do, then well do it. But for now, its like no pressure. My man wants to take a break. Cool. I just get the bus and take the squad out and go out and really ransack cities for a minute.
VH1: A lot of songs on your record you can do by yourself anyway.
B: We got an extensive catalog. I mean, I could put together one helluva medley, yknow what Im saying? But it still aint the same without it being both of us. You kind of adapt to it a little bit.
VH1: Some people get sick of living in a bus.
A: The best thing about touring is having your homeboys out there and yall just tripping and having a good time and going across the world singing these songs. Its really an inspiration thing, man. I dont know when Ill hit the stage again. A lot of people dont understand that weve been doing it for like 11 years, professionally. You get to a point where you just want to be in the studio and the road is just not really appealing to me right now.
VH1: I guess everybody expects you to be the same two people you were 11 years ago.
A: Thats what it is. I mean, its growing up, man. It aint breaking up.
VH1: What recent hip-hop album raised the game for you?
A: The last great hip-hop album was A Tribe Called Quests Midnight Marauders.
VH1: Thats pessimistic, thats a real long time ago. What about Mos Def?
A: Yeah, Mos Defs got great jams. Its the difference between having a couple of good jams and [great] albums. When I say the last great album was A Tribe Called Quest, thats because that was a great album. I dont hear a lot of albums to live by. I hear great songs, and its more club-driven; which is not a problem, because I like to jam and dance, but the last great album was that.
B: Midnight Marauders was the one. Thats the one with all the faces on it, right? That was the one complete picture.
VH1: Tribe had a good sense of humor. What happened to that in hip-hop?
A: The whole keep it real thing in hip-hop killed it, because keep it real turned into keep it what you think somebody else thinks is real. To me, real is laughing. Real is slapping somebody. Real is busting your pistol, too, sometimes, but real aint busting your pistol when you wake up in the morning every day. I dont do that! I recently heard some artist saying, OutKast aint real. Well, if we aint so real, how are you gonna see me in the club, and talk to me and be cool to me and then turn around and say something about me? That aint real.
VH1: You wont say who that was?
B: No, we aint gonna crank it up, but when we see you, you better speak up!
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