Music News

Outkast Reunited! Big Boi and Andre 3000 Are So Much Better Together

Billboard Magazine reported the mind-blowing news earlier this week that Outkast may reunite to headline Coachella in 2014. The internet then cried with joy.

Over the years, organizers of the massive California festival have made a point to facilitate the reunions of other classic acts, like the Pixies, Rage Against the Machine, and the Stone Roses. We're hoping Outkast actually follows their lead. And if not for their enormous fan base, then for the sake of the Atlanta bred duo Big Boi and Andre 3000 themselves. We believe they will benefit from a reformed Outkast as much as their adoring fans.

An argument could be made that no rap album (definitely no double album) has ever been as universally beloved by critics, the public, and popular culture as was Outkast's 2003 Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It sold 11 million copies, and had songs gangstas could shake to, rockers could play on their guitar, and DJs could spin at quinceaneras, bar mitzvahs, and seedy bars. But that album was in actuality the end of Outkast as it was truly two solo albums -- Speakerboxxx by Big Boi and The Love Below by Andre 3000. Although they released one more record, the soundtrack to the excruciatingly awful movie Idlewild which the duo also starred in, and since then nothing.

The pair were always adventurous sorts, letting soul and funk and rock and jazz and sketch comedy marinate into their Southern hip-hop. So it's not surprising that the fortune and fame that their music bestowed upon them would lead to the exploration of worlds outside their (and sometimes our) original comfort zones.

Big Boi has remained entrenched in the music world, releasing two solo albums -- 2010's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty and 2012's Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. More interestingly there were tweets and photos showing Big Boi hanging out with indie rockers Modest Mouse. And rumors floated about that Big Boi would produce and contribute to their new album, but so far nothing has been released.

Meanwhile, Andre 3000 has tried to become a movie star. Beyond Idlewild, he has appeared in the Mark Wahlberg movie Four Brothers, the Get Shorty sequel Be Cool, and the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro. But for all the charisma Andre 3000 shows on stage, he is a blank slate on the screen. His first starring role in the as yet unreleased Jimi Hendrix bio-pic All Is By My Side has been getting solid reviews, but it's hard to imagine the actor Andre Benjamin could infuse as much life into Hendrix as he puts into Andre 3000.

So if the rumors are vicious lies, we are all losers. Outkast got better and better with each successive album in which Big Boi and Andre 3000 were equal collaborators. From their 1994 playful debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to 1996's more clever ATLiens to 1998's Aquemini where they let themselves experiment to 2000's Stankonia where they let it all hang out, it felt like they were constantly evolving into something more freaky, crazy, and fantastic. While Speakerboxxx/The Love Below had it's great moments, it was like ordering hot and sour soup at a Chinese restaurant and receiving two bowls, one hot the other sour.

Although Andre 3000 received more popular attention than Big Boi, and Big Boi more critical acclaim, they were no Simon & Garfunkel or Wham, where one partner's talent overshadowed the other. Each added something integral to the music, which they have never been able to create apart. Perhaps in the 13 years since Stankonia the duo have outgrown each other and no recording studio would now be big enough to hold the two of them, but the entire world would at least like to see them try.

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland