May 9, 2011 The Realness
I was listening to OutKast today (not an uncommon occurrence) and it occurred to me that they have to be considered the best hip-hop artists of all time—hands down no question. Let's think about this: 'Dre and Big Boi released “player's ball,” their first single, at the end of 1993. I was one year old when the single hit number one on the billboard rap chart and three when OutKast won best new group at the Source awards. Over the last 18 years OutKast has shown a level of consistent brilliance and dopeness that is unmatched. Biggie, Big L, Tupac, Nas, Jay Z, and the Wu Tang all had their moments but didn't produce almost two decades of genius albums. I mean, who achieves that nowadays? Nas made one genius (seriously genius) album, Biggie and Tupac each two great albums, and Jay-Z, Big L, and Wu Tang each one. These rappers were on top for a few years each: Illmatic, Ready to Die, Life After Death, 2pacalypse Now, Me Against the World, Reasonable Doubt, Lifesytlez ov da Poor and Dangerous, and Enter the Wu-Tang are all great albums but don't represent a level of performance consistent in these rappers' discographies. I can listen to any of those albums over and over, but the subject matter and style isn't particularly groundbreaking (and nowhere near as diverse as Outkast). Nas had incredible flow, Biggie incredible rhythm, Tupac was almost preaching, Big L was scarily ghetto, and Jay Z, well, I've never liked Jay-Z but people tell me he's good. Outkast, though, honestly never cease to amaze me. Bear with me while I gush: southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, player's ball, git up, git out, two dope boyz, ATLiens, wheelz of steel, jazzy belle, elevators, return of the “g”, rosa parks, skew it on the bar-b, da art of storytellin parts 1 & 2, spottieottiedopaliscious, chonky fire, ms. Jackson, B.o.B, the whole world, hey ya, roses, and ghettomusick could all easily be played at my funeral. Those are 21 legitimate classics. I can bump those tracks at any time of day in any situation and vibe. Incredibly funky, quick, clever, interesting verses, beats which ooze what southern hip-hop is all about, I think Outkast is easily the most accomplished hip-hop artist, if not artist, of the last two decades. Better than Elvis, as prolific and so much fucking cooler than the Beatles, they can't be touched. It's universal appeal: the pure funk of southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and ATLiens ("throw yo hands in the ayerrrr"), the wordplay and storytelling genius of Aquemini, and the insane cross-over appeal of Stankonia and Speakerboxx/The Love Below. I mean even pitchfork, a publication which listed “maps” by the yeah yeah yeahs as the sixth best song of the 2000s (really? I like that song but 6th best...), puts B.o.B. as the best song of the decade. You gotta recognize, groups come and go but OutKast is forever. - Ollie T. P.S.: sorry if this reads like a love letter to OutKast, I couldn't help myself they're just so fucking dope. Check out the realness on WVKR 91.3 thursday night/friday morning 3-5 a.m. (streaming at wvkr.org), we'll playing other good things including Hieroglyphics, De La, UGK and much else.
The Realness – Final Show of the Year:
OutKast – Ms. Jackson: