Even if they never make another album (and we really hope they do), Outkast will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest groups in the history of Hip Hop. But for all of their critical and commercial success, they were largely slept on by the mainstream for the first half of their career.
While the aforementioned Stakonia has over three million units sold, and was followed by Speakerboxxx/The Love Below—one of a handful of Hip Hop albums to sell over 10 million copies—Outkast’s previous efforts are modest commercial success only in a comparative sense. That is to say, Outkast set the bar so incredibly high, that people outside of Hip Hop often overlook the double platinum Aquemini and platinum albums ATLiens and Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.
Early moderate commercial success aside, you can make a legitimate argument for each of Outkast’s first five albums being called a classic. And that doesn’t begin to address the stuff they more or less gave away, such as 1995’s “Benz Or Beamer.”
Outkasts other “B.O.B.” could be found on New Jersey Drive Volume 1, a middling movie with a soundtrack so dope Tommy Boy Records decided to double their profits by splitting it into two volumes. Dre and Big Boi could be found beside the likes of Boot Camp Clik (“Heads Ain’t Ready”) and Young Lay (“All About My Fetti”). Visually, this was the perfect snapshot of Atlanta circa 1995. Cee-Lo appears with a mouth full of gold teeth, and there are no shortage of furry Kangols and colorful windbreakers. For most outside the South, this was probably one of the first looks at the Bankhead Bounce—courtesy of dozens of video extras of all ages.
And what about the song itself? In hindsight, it seemed that Andre and Big Boi’s first-person narratives of carjacking and drug trafficking sounded pretty accurate.
“Hip Hop is an art form, just like painting is an art form,” Andre later explained. “Do I have to be a killer to draw somebody get killed? Or somebody laying there dead? It’s all creative. So if you have such a creative mind where you can create a story about a guy in the hood going through this, and you make it believable, that’s actually a greater feat to me than somebody who’s actually from it. Somebody who’s from it, they’re just saying what they see. But creating a whole life? You can look at it two ways.”