Welcome back to Head to Head with Edd, where yours truly goes toe-to-toe with the superfans of the game’s biggest artists. We’ll take a look at the selected artist’s biggest hits and misses and see where we can find common ground.
This week Alison Moore stops by to chat. While she’s by far the biggest Goodie Mob fan I know, she’s also pretty knowledgable about their Dungeon Fam – the incomparable Outkast. Today, let’s talk about the best and worst of one of the best duos of all time.
Name Outkast’s three greatest albums
Southernplayalisticaddilacmuzik – That album officially put the South on the map. The East and West Coast had to stand up and take notice. With songs like “Aint No Thang,” “Player’s Ball,” and the title track they let us know that they are fat like hambone and tight like gnat booty.
Aquemini –Outkast reinvents themselves with every album. Each album’s production style is different but their lyrics remind us they have the same heart. I mean, they took a song with a hook about a bus and called it “Rosa Parks!” I still don’t know what that song is about.
Stankonia – Stankonia wouldn’t have made my top three off of memory alone. I believe this album came out during my super spiritual stage in college but that album has the most sonically diverse singles that would be the crowd favorite at every party.
Well, with one exception that we’ll get into later, there’s no wrong answer here. For me, Aquemini is OutKast at their apex, a 5-star classic that solidified them as true rap greats. ATLiens is just one step behind that greatness, boasting the creativity and imagination that would define their careers. And of course, when you have a debut as great as Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, success is destined. I’m not as big a fan of Stankonia as others are – it’s their breakout album and the entry point for many fans, so I respect its legacy, and, of course, it’s pretty freaking great. But again, you can’t go wrong with any choice, minus that one exception…
What’s Outkast’s worst album?
My least favorite Outkast album would be Idlewild. I admire their brazen ability to push the envelope but this one didn’t quite connect.
Kinda has to be Idlewild here, right? And don’t get me wrong – this isn’t an atrocious album by any means. By 2020 standards Twitter would be singing its praises. But with a catalog as stacked as Outkast’s this one’s inconsistencies really stand out.
So what’s the Might O’s most underrated album?
Yes, I meant what I said. Idlewild is both my least favorite Outkast album and their most underrated album. Two of my favorite Outkast songs of all time are on this record. On “Hollywood Divorce” each featured artists’ verse kills it! Whenever I hear “Morris Brown,” I am immediately taken back to my college days at the AU. That song isn’t about Morris Brown College but the sound of the band leaders whistle, snare drums, and tubas pay homage to Morris Brown’s band’s stellar reputation.
Edd: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Kinda weird to call an album I once labeled 4.5/5 stars underrated, but it’s true. This odd combo of solo albums (sorta) doesn’t seem to pop up in convos much these days, and when it is discussed, it’s only to muse about The Love Below being the “only” solo Andre Benjamin LP we’ll likely get. But this set is way more than a 3 Stacks showcase. Speakerboxxx, arguably, is more cohesive than Love Below and together the two halves combine for an extremely potent mix. This is way more than an Andre showcase, it’s the best of what both me bring to hip-hop.
Kast’s best single is…
Alison: “Ms. Jackson”
I had a hard time narrowing this one down but I decided to go with “Ms. Jackson.” Who would have thought to write a song to their baby’s mama, mama? Madea got her own song! “Elevators” almost won out with Dre’s verse (“if you don’t move your feet, I don’t eat so we like neck to neck”). By the way, “Roses” doesn’t get enough love.
“Ms. Jackson” is certainly the biggest, but “Elevators” is everything that Outkast is all about – catchy lyrics; deep, insightful lyrics; and production that’s totally ahead of its time. Listen to that beat and don’t tell me you don’t feel the “vibes” y’all are so obsessed with today. And yes, “Roses” is great.
And the weakest single is…
Alison: “The Train”
Why? Because I didn’t remember it. Did you? It´s not a bad song. Outkast literally does not have any bad singles. Once I re-listened to “The Train” it immediately came back to me but it is just not as strong as the other Outkast offerings.
Edd: “The Train”
I’m not a big fan of “The Whole World” but biases aside, it’s pretty clear that “The Train” and “Land of a Million Drums” are the two singles that are racing for the bottom. Like Alison said, neither are horrible but “The Train” is easily the most forgettable At least “Land of a Million Drums” had that weird Scooby Doo video to its name.
Let’s show love to the album cuts: Name a song that should have been a single.
Alison: “Gasoline Dreams”
I didn’t discover this song until I watched a YouTube video of Outkast performing it at Coachella during their farewell concert tour, ATLast – the tour I had tickets to but didn’t make because I totaled my car on my way to Atlanta for the concert. “Gasoline Dreams” has a rock n’ roll feel with the angst to go with it. I wish I had discovered this song sooner.
Edd: “Crumblin’ Erb”
I’d love to say “Mamacita” here just to annoy everyone (seriously, why do y’all hate that song so much, it’s good!) but instead I’ll take it back to the debut and go with “Crumblin’ Erb.” As always, what seems like a groovy track for the smokers belies a deeper commentary – this time on the evils of gun violence. Plus Andre references Keith Sweat so obviously it’s a winner for me.
Speaking of Andre 3000, he always steals the show on guest verses. Which is his best?
It’s too many to choose from but I’ĺl go with T.I.’s “Sorry.” I take it as his apology to his fans for not giving us a solid solo album. Honorable mention to his verse on the oft-forgotten “Somethingwickedthisway” by T.L.C. And may I add I don’t know who told him and Beyonce that it was a good idea to record a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”
I remember giving my wife a mixtape of Andre guest verses nearly a decade ago. Yes, I was a hero in my household.
The easy answer is “International Player’s Anthem” but since that was TECHNICALLY an Outkast guest spot, that’s a cheat. Andre has SO MANY great guest verses – the “Deuces Remix,” “Green Light,” “Sorry,” “Throw Some D’s Remix” (I wonder if his cousin is still fire on them computers?) but I gotta go with “Sixteen.” There is no way on the planet you can listen to a verse that layered, that complex, that compelling and that moving and tell me he’s NOT a top 10 MC. Impossible.
We never got that official Andre 3000 solo LP but we got plenty from Big Boi. Which is his best effort?
Alison: Sir Lucious Left Foot
I must admit I hadn’t listened to Big Boi’s last two albums before this challenge. Turns out I really didn’t need to. Sir Lucious Left Foot is clearly the best Big Boi solo album. I can listen to it straight through without one inkling to skip a song. “Tangerine” is a guilty pleasure. Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors started out strong. I love the alternative rock production but I wish these rappers would stop singing. Big Boi albums tend to be bloated and lose steam towards the end except for “Sir Lucious.”
Edd: Sir Lucious Left Foot
It’s a pretty close race between Big Boi’s first two LPs but I’ll go with the debut for now. It’s easily one of the best Southern rap records of its era and, like most things Big Boi, failed to get the recognition it deserved. Also, if you haven’t heard it, check out Big Grams, his 2015 collabo with Phanotgram. It’s another winner.
Speaking of solo albums (sorta): Speakerboxxx vs The Love Below. Which do you prefer?
I really don´t want to listen to anything about relationships soo…. Speakerboxx is unskippable … until you get to “Bamboo’s Interlude.” They could have scrapped the last 9 tracks. I appreciate Andre 3000 exploring his out of the box sensibilities but The Love Below has too much singing and talking for my liking. I play “Happy Valentine’s Day” on every Valentine’s Day and The Love Below did give us “A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre,” nevertheless… I prefer Speakerboxx.
Edd: The Love Below
Playa, these Outkast questions are tough – my answers could change depending on my mood. At the time of release, I thought Love Below was the superior project due to its creativity. Then in later years, I became a Speakerboxxx guy, because it’s simply the better project lyrically. Sorry, Alison, I can’t let you throw out “Tomb of the Boom” or “Flip Flop Rock.” It comes down to this: Speakerboxxx is the better pure hip-hop release, The Love Below is the more musically adventurous release. It’s like comparing apples and appendicitis. Today I’ll choose … The Love Below. Ask me in six hours and I’ll have another answer.
Andre 3000 vs. Big Boi: Who is the better MC?
Alison: Andre 3000
Andre 3000. Hands down. End of discussion. Now that I think about it though, it is not that cut and dry. Lyrics are very important to me. Andre 3000 lyrics are more introspective and socially conscious. Big Boi can get deep too but he defers to pimping, b****es, and hoes for the most part. They both have a unique flow. Both of them command attention when you hear their voice. But yeah, I’m sticking with 3 Stacks.
Edd: Andre 3000
It’s not cut and dry at all. Both Andre and Big Boi are rap titans and both have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. For my money, though, I gotta give the slight edge to Andre, who is in my personal top 10 of all time. His wordplay, insight and diversity of styles makes him one of the best to ever stand in a booth. That’s no slight to Big Boi, who ALSO is one of the greatest ever, has shown more consistency and can outrap 95% of the competition in his own right. I too am sticking with 3 Stacks.
Are Outkast the kings of Southern hip hop?
Alison: I’ll just say Outkast makes me proud to be from the South just like the late Rep. John Lewis. Insightful lyrics, universal acclaim, production assist from Organized Noise, and swag. What else do you need?
Edd: There are a lot of folks running around here claiming to be king (PARTNA) but no matter who is currently sitting on the throne, the names of Andre Benjamin and Antwon Patton are engraved in the headrest. Young’ns can claim they aren’t currently in the spotlight and therefore are irrelevant; old head East and West Coast fans can wave them off as backward Southerners; but real fans know architects when they see them. Outkast were the faces off Southern hip-hop for a generation, and the next generation followed their lead to make the Southern sound the preeminent force in the game. Outkast told y’all at the Source Awards in 95 that the South had something to say, now the entire world of hip-hop is reading off their manuscript. Salute the real kings.
Are we old school players or new school fools? Were Alison’s answers more your speed or was Edd spitting more facts? Let us know your thoughts below.