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OutKast
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OutKast

OutKast is an American hip hop duo. Their music is a mixture of Dirty South and G-Funk. The duo is Andre 3000 (b. Andre Benjamin, formerly known as Dre) and Big Boi (b. Antwan Patton), both from Atlanta, Georgia.

Big Boi and Andre went to high school together in East Point, Atlanta, and battled each other (lyrically) on a regular basis. They eventually teamed up, and were pursued by Organized Noize, a group of local producers who had made hits for TLC and Xscape. OutKast signed to LaFace and released "Player's Ball", which hit #1 on the Rap Chart. Their full length debut was Southernplayalisticadillakmusik (1994; see 1994 in music); the pair won Best New Rap Group at the Source Awards (1995; see 1995 in music)). ATLiens came out in 1996 (see 1996 in music) and hit #2 on the charts.

Aquemini (1998; see 1998 in music) also reached the number 2 position on the charts. The album was widely praised as an innovative, unique and refreshing album full of rap with a progressive vision. In 1999, OutKast was sued by Rosa Parks over the album's most successful radio single, "Rosa Parks". She felt the song misappropriated her name, and also objected to some of the song's obscene language. The song's lyrics were largely unrelated to Parks, save for a line in the chorus: "Ah ha, hush that fuss / Everybody move to the back of the bus". The initial lawsuit was dismissed. Parks hired lawyer Johnny Cochran to appeal the decision in 2001, but this too was denied, on First Amendment grounds. In 2003, the Supreme Court allowed Rosa Parks to proceed with her lawsuit against OutKast.

The pair's fourth album, Stankonia (2000; see 2000 in music) was released to excellent reviews and debuted at #2. It included the single "Ms. Jackson", which is about Andre's breakup with singer Erykah Badu and became their first pop crossover hit. Other successful singles from the album included "So Fresh, So Clean" and "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)". All three songs' videos had heavy MTV2 airplay. OutKast also won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for that song, and another Grammy for Stankonia as Best Rap Album.

In 2002, they released a greatest hits album, Big Boi And Dre Present...OutKast, which contained three new songs including the popular single, "The Whole World", which won the Grammy Award for the 2002 Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

In 2003 OutKast released a double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It is essentially two solo albums, one by each member, packaged as a single release under the OutKast banner. Big Boi's Speakerboxxx is, for the most part, a joyous party record, tempered by more politically-minded tracks like "War". Andre 3000's The Love Below is sprawling, lush, and ambitious, inspired as much by Prince, Rick James, and Frank Zappa as hip-hop; the majority of the vocals are sung rather than rapped, and much of the instrumentation is live. Both discs are highly innovative and accomplished. Speakerboxx/The Love Below has received what is perhaps the duo's most rapturous critical reception to date. The album is also OutKast's biggest commercial success yet, having debuted on the Billboard Albums Chart at number one and stayed there for several weeks. The first two singles, which were released nearly simultaneously, Big Boi's "The Way You Move" and Andre's "Hey Ya!" both immediately exploded at radio, Big Boi's initially becoming enormous on urban radio, then later pop and rhythmic, and Andre's more rock-sounding song becoming a smash crossover hit on pop, rhythmic, hot AC, and alternative rock radio then later on urban stations. "Hey Ya!" was also one of the first songs to become a hit on the Apple iTunes Music Store, replacing "Stacy's Mom" at #1 and staying there for months. Despite a fall release, the songs' music videos became two of 2003's most played on MTV, VH1, MTV2, and BET, both having entered heavy rotation on all four channels at one point or another. The digital video channels, MTV Jams and VH1 Soul also gave both videos the heaviest of play, MTV Jams having played each almost once an hour at their peaks. Together, both singles spent over ten weeks at number one on the Hot 100 singles chart. Though seemingly universally appreciated by fans of all types of music, by the time the singles had run their course many people had become tired of them since, for a period of months, they seemed to be playing every time the radio was turned on.

Concerned with oversaturation, OutKast's next official single was not released until the summer of 2004. Andre's "Roses" has not met the level of success as either of its predecessors, but it has, to date, become a modest-sized hit on urban radio and the American music video networks.

In a campaign commercial released October 30, 2003, the Wesley Clark presidential campaign made reference to OutKast. The reference was an attempt to get the attention of a much younger generation of potential voters. In the ad, Clark is sitting in a coffee shop with a dozen middle-class young adults of various American ethnicities. The young adults do not speak, but sit and listen as Clark appears to be answering their questions. "Well, to answer your questions, no, I would not have voted for the Iraq war...I am pro-choice and I am a strong believer in Affirmative Action...And I don't care what the other candidates say, I don't think OutKast is really breaking up. Andre 3000 and Big Boi just cut solo records, that's all." The last comment prompts one of the young adults, a blonde-bearded caucasian to say approvingly "alright" and to tap fists with Clark.

In February 2004, OutKast was criticized by Native American groups for their performance at the Grammy Awards, which featured dancers moving wildly around a green teepee in war paint and feathered headdresses. The Native American Cultural Center called for a boycott of OutKast and of CBS, the broadcaster of the awards show. CBS later apologized.

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