One of the major draws of this year's
Outkast, which headlines Coachella's opening night Friday, is one of America's great hip-hop exports. A smart, sonically curious Southern concern, the team reveled in pushing the boundaries of a genre that was trying to recover from the twin deaths of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.
But the group went on hiatus in 2007 following the release of its album and film "Idlewild," and in the intervening years one member has worked on his acting chops and the other released inventive solo albums. The rumor mill never stopped churning of a reunion between the rappers
Seven years is a long time, especially in a culture whose short-term memory is diminishing with each puff of the vape. As such, a refresher course in the joys of Outkast is in order. Below, a primer.
Who: Andre "3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton. Were they the Rolling Stones, Benjamin would be the peacocky
Benjamin's style is immediately recognizable — he's a cheeky romancer who celebrates language, loves fashion and has identified himself on Outkast's recordings under aliases including Possum Aloysius Jenkins III, Cupid Valentino, Benjamin Bixby, Johnny Vulture and Touchy Tiger. Responsible for the "The Love Below" half of Outkast's terrific double-disc "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," Benjamin's "Hey Ya!" is one of the great hits of the '00s, what with its "Shake it like a Polaroid picture" refrain. The rapper/producer has acted in films including "Semi-Pro," "Charlotte's Web" and "Battle in Seattle," and he stars as Jimi Hendrix in the just-released biopic "All Is By My Side."
Patton is less outwardly playful, and his tracks tend to hit harder. Still, he's as skilled a lyricist and rapper as anyone making hip-hop over the past few decades. His solo albums "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty" in 2010 and the 2012 album "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors" further confirmed the artist as a stubborn creative force unbeholden to the charms of his flashier compadre. An avowed
What: Part of a larger collective known as the Dungeon Family, Outkast burst out of Atlanta along with kindred spirits and longtime friends the Goodie Mob (featuring a young
Over nearly a decade, Outkast pushed a sound that was as identifiable as it was groundbreaking. One of its first major hits, "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)," stuck out on radio because it was nearly twice as fast and frantic as anything else at the time. Alongside other rap headliners in the post-Biggie/Tupac era —
"Synthesizer," from the group's breakout album "ATLiens" featuring Parliament-Funkadelic visionary
Where: Outkast was signed by the rising Atlanta powerhouse record label La Face when the Southern city was establishing itself as the hub for black popular music in America. Alongside labelmates including Goodie Mob, Usher, TLC, Pink and Toni Braxton and fellow Georgians
When: Performing the first of dozens of festival slots throughout 2014, Outkast will land on the Coachella main stage at 11:30 p.m. The pair has been notably mum about their intentions. Will Sleepy Brown be there to croon the hook to "The Way You Move"? Chances are good, considering he's listed as opener on some of Outkast's dates. Following the tour kickoff in Indio, the team continues on the festival circuit, booking, among others, the Governor's Ball in New York, Sasquatch outside of Seattle and the new Bottlerock festival in Napa Valley. (Where both Sir Lucious Left Foot and Possum Aloysius Jenkins III should feel right at home.)
Why: How many times will you be able to shake it like a Polaroid picture on the same plot of land as the man who coined and sang the phrase? Too few to count. That's why.