I need Andre 3000 to make a triumphant return in 2012. With rumors of a new Outkast album flooding the blogs, and a slew of Dre guest appearances last year -- on singles from Beyonce, Young Jeezy and Lloyd -- it's looking like he might bring his hiatus to an end. And who better to revitalize the genre then the creative genius behind its most influential group.
Southern hip hop's quantum leap from regional side note to focal point of the industry was spearheaded by Atlanta's rap renaissance -- where hometown heros Decatur DaVinci Andre Benjamin and his partner Antwan "Big Boi" Patton would single-handedly established the Southern rap sub divisions that would soon dominate the mainstream.
Take T.I. Now widely accepted as "King of The South," he was introduced with the appropriately titled LP Trap Music, an album that revolves around the "trap" or "trapper" lifestyle -- a concept introduced to the mainstream a decade earlier with Outkast's third album Aquemini ("Ya'll Scared," "Spottieottiedopalicious"). Meanwhile, Lil Johns "crunk" empire ushered him to top of the Billboard charts and the Forbes list, but A-town's dynamic duo was responsible for coining the phrase (Aquemini's Rosa Parks). And Lil Wayne's extraterrestrial angle on his Carter III and I am Not A Human Being albums put an alternative spin on his hardcore persona, propelling him to crazy mainstream success. ATLiens '96 -- you see where this is going?
Dre's influence wasn't only limited to Southern hip-hop. Kanye West's 2008 LP 808's And Heartbreak was basically his version of Andre 3000's Grammy Award-winning The Love Below. The only hip hop record to ever win Album Of The Year; it revolutionized the game and created a lane for current "rap & B" chart toppers like Drake and B.O.B.
If only 3000 was a little bit more accessible, like Big Boi, we wouldn't be here! During Dre's extended leave of absence, his partner in rhyme has been everywhere. Forget about his critically acclaimed 2010 solo album Sir Lucius Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty -- he's featured on countless songs, performes two hundred times a year, and became the official spokesperson for Crown Royal.
Sporadic guest appearances and solo albums from Big Boi are cool... but who are we kidding? The game needs some pure, unadulterated Three Stacks! The dynamic the two create together is unparalleled. Possum Alawicious Jenkins Andre 3000 is the shot of adrenaline the game desperately needs. Following the deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., hip-hop's future going into the new millennium was decidedly shaky. Outkast's music bridged that gap. In this similarly uninspired rap era, I think they're the ones capable of saving us again.
We need innovators. We need creativity and individuality to reanimate and revitalize the genre. So for the sake of me and you, yo momma and yo cousin too, I'm predicting that the ATLiens return in 2012 to make things so fresh and so clean once more!
Follow Sharief Easterling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Carnegie_Kid