OutKast have been around for a long time. Since the 1990s, the collective have continuously released compelling alternative hip-hop music that has remained unmatched. With origins in Atlanta, the duo have always been ahead of their time concerning music. However, their unique style makes it impossible to pigeonhole them, which has been crucial to their longevity as a double act.
The duo had a strange yet exciting rise to fame. With their origins firmly rooted in the early 1990s, the duo formed when Atlanta became a newly established hip-hop hub. With New York and Los Angeles-based acts running the charts, the ’90s saw the rise of the south, and OutKast assembled as a new wave of creatives began to emerge from the Georgia city.
Comprised of André 3000 and Big Boi, the duo met as teenagers in East Atlanta. The former (real name André Benjamin) attended Northside and Tri-Cities High School for the Performing Arts but was bitten by the hip-hop bug. As a result, his only wish was to make music. Benjamin met his future partner at a popular hotspot on the city’s East side. In 1992, aged 16, Big Boi (real name Atwan Patton) was pitted against Benjamin in a rap battle at the Lenox Square mall. However, although they initially battled as rivals, the two recognised their talents and quickly became partners in crime.
Through a mutual friend, the two had, they were granted access to an underground hip-hop studio known as ‘The Dungeon’. Here, they worked as producers and songwriters for an established Atlanta collective, Organised Noize but would also work on music as a duo on the side. As time passed, Patton and Benjamin realised the material they were putting together as a pair was of better quality than Organised Noize. Releasing their projects under the pseudonym OutKast, in 1993, the duo signed with music mogul Antonio ‘LA’ Reid’s LaFace Records.
This was when the duo had their big break. With the creative freedom they had always desired and an unfathomable amount of tools at their disposal, the crew began receiving vast amounts of critical acclaim for their ability to morph and integrate the sonics of hip-hop into other genres. This is evident in tracks such as ‘Hey Ya’ that fused hip-hop with acoustic music and electronic funk, an extraordinary feat. The duo explored new realms with each of their projects. The duo managed acquired six Grammy awards and six BET awards as a result of their bravery.
Below you can see rare footage of an interview the collective gave in 1998 for The Art Of R’n’B Of Hip-Hop with John Reed.