Last month, when rumors began to surface that OutKast were reuniting for Coachella and were allegedly confirmed by respected outlets, it still seemed a bit too good to be true. Each year, months before Coachella we suffer with the rumors that surface that The Smiths are coming back, but not OutKast, something seemed much more legit about this one. Yet, after half of the duo, Big Boi took to Instagram to showcase photos of him and Andre 3000 together, those allegations seemed to be closer to reality.
As much as I simply love The Smiths and my heart goes right to my throat when those rumors surface (I will never give up hope) but the artists that Coachella has gotten to reunite over the years like Pixies, Refused, At the Drive-In, Rage Against The Machine, Throbbing Gristle, and so many others, have been amazing and memorable. I am simply a sucker for good reunions, but it is clearly nostalgia. OutKast are not nostalgia, they are more than that. OutKast, unlike other reunited groups are more than just a duo that belong to a clique of fans and followers, they are a group that has appeal across the board. Hell, even my mother listens to OutKast! They have the ability to bring together groups of people from different creeds, ages, cultural backgrounds and become one together. I know this because I witnessed it first hand in 2001 when they performed at Jones Beach as part of Moby's Area: One festival which also featured New Order, The Roots, Incubus, Paul Oakenfold, Nelly Furtado, and many more. Before Kanye West brought a certain production value to hip-hop concerts thanks to his last two solo tours, this years triumphant Yeezus Tour and 2008's Glow in the Dark Tour, OutKast took that Broadway-meets-U2-arena rock atmosphere to a rap gig. On that Area:One festival they transformed Jones Beach's iconic floating stage into the center of the Earth and played off the themes from their 2000 masterpiece, Stankonia. The stage looked like a giant cave and we were all inside Earth's core as the party of the century was going on. Maybe it was the inspiration for the Wachowski brothers rapture dance party in The Matrix Revolutions? Yet, after all these years and the thousands of bands and performances I have seen, I still vividly remember that gig. It is simply a testament to how good they were and how massive of a production it was. What I also recall is that everyone watching OutKast on stage was having the time of their lives.
Now, it has been a decade since they have performed on the same stage together, however, after all these years apart, Big Boi and Andre could still have the rejuvenated energy they had back in 2001. Yet, more than stage energy, this could be the spark that they need to work together again. OutKast have always been a left-of-center rap group, hence the name, but their sweet and savory sound and the diversity of lyrical delivery that each member has made them so special. Big Boi was much more traditional in his cadence and flow and combined with his sporty look was a stark contrast to Andre's soul meets funky speed delivery and far out style that only he could pull off. Mixed with Organized Noize's far-out production, OutKast were a force to be reckoned with. Two years after the released of their flawless 2003 album Speakerboxx / The Love Below, they released their final album, the soundtrack to Idlewild and then left us. Big Boi has remained active as a solo artist and Andre has given verses here and there to other artists, but never released a full on solo LP. Which is why this reunion could obviously lead to their chemistry sparking again and crafting new music.
Hip-hop is in an interesting place right now and 2013 was a great year for the genre, however, a new OutKast album could shake up the music world more than a new Kanye, Drake, Eminem, or Jay Z album ever could in this day and age. Simply because when looking back and listening to OutKast's catalogue there was never just a decent album or mediocre record or a record that conflicted critics, each record stood on their own and still have the ability to turn heads. Now, 20 years after their debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, each album since has stood the test of time and will continue to be the blueprint for hip-hop and pop groups for years to come.