Outkast’s simply delicious anthem ‘Ms. Jackson’ was released in October 2000 and yet, somehow, it still sounds as fresh today as it did when Andre 3000 and Big Boi shared it with the world. The hip-hop classic becomes even greater still when you get to hear the duo’s remarkable harmonies and verses isolated, which gives the track a whole new feel to it—that once again, somehow, re-invigorates an already flawless track.
The track was the stand-out track from Outkast’s fourth record Stankonia which took the band to heady new heights. ‘Ms. Jackson’ went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards. The single rescued the album from a commercial standpoint of lead single ‘B.O.B.’ which failed to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100 and only reached number 69 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart whereas ‘Ms. Jackson’ made it to number one on both charts, as well as achieving top spots in a whole host of countries all over the globe.
The lyrics are a message to the mother of Erykah Badu, the singer of whom Andre 3000 had a child outside of wedlock. The Outkast man wanted to use the track to get his point Badu’s mother, a bid to allow her to hear his side of the story after he felt as though he was being villainised as a bad person. The lyrical content of the song, in truth, was probably a bad idea if he had hopes of rebuilding his relationship with Badu who, at the time, Andre 3000 felt as though was keeping him away from the child on purpose. After hearing ‘Ms. Jackson’, she wasn’t in a hurry to change her mind.
Furthermore, Badu wasn’t particularly pleased when she initially heard the track herself, stating: “It hit kind of a sore spot. I didn’t wanna hear that, especially when I heard Big Boi’s verse. When I heard André’s verse, I felt very good because his verse was really, really inspiring. He just said how he felt and it was his honest feelings and I always respected that and listened to what he felt and appreciated it.”
However, on the contrary, Badu did note that her mother loved the song, saying, “Baby, she bought herself a ‘Ms. Jackson’ license plate. She had the mug, she had the ink pen, she had the headband, everything. That’s who loved it.”
The track was a way for Andre 3000 to convey his emotions on a subject that was close to his heart in the way that he knew best, “I probably would never come out and tell Erykah’s mom, ‘I’m sorry for what went down,'” he once explained to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But music gives you the chance to say what you want to say. And her mom loved it. She’s like, ‘Where’s my publishing check?’.”
Erykah Badu is possibly the only person on earth who reacted negatively to the track, ‘Ms. Jackson’ is an utter joy and hearing this isolated version of the classic track only leaves us pining for Andre 3000 and Big Boi to finally get back in the studio to cook up some new music for the first time since 2006.