I have a secret to share. Despite growing up listening to hip hop in the 90′s I never really got into Outkast. I remember their first album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik getting 5 mics in Source magazine. My older brother bought the album and he did not like it. I trusted his opinion.
I was not really into that southern player music at the time and had recently found Hieroglyphics and that laid back west coast sound. A few of my friends really liked Outkast but despite this and Outkast’s commercial success with their later albums, I stuck to my guns that they were not for me.
Recently I decided to fire up Spotify and listen to all of their albums. I am glad I did. Their first 4 albums are all fantastic. I found Speakerboxxx/The Love Below to be little hard to take in compared to their earlier albums but as with all artists that explore new sounds I suspect it’s just about repeat listens.
After listening to all albums a couple of times the album that I really liked was Aquemini. It is consistently good from beginning to end and features some quality 90′s rap album skits. It does sound a little dated but in a classic 90′s hip hop way that really just adds to it’s charm. It was not until their next album Stankonia that they really found commercial success with Ms Jackson but this album has a couple of great songs that may have been ahead of their time, Rosa Park in particular features an unique accordion break.
If like me you have not given Outkast a fair listen I suggest you do. Despite their crossover success they have never sold out. They have kept their original southern rap sound and a comfortable level of weirdness while exploring their artistic limits. Aquemini is a good point in their career where they are starting to explore more ideas while still “keeping it real”.