Outkast “ATLiens” Revisited:
Outkast dropped its second studio album “ATLiens” on this date in 1996.. This was the follow up from their debut album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” (Certified platinum) which came out in 1994 under LaFace Records when they were just 18 years old. They were given more creative control for their second album and took the opportunity to recreate themselves. On a trip to Jamaica they decided to ditch the corn rolls and go with a more natural style by promising not to comb their hair. They also both had big changes in their personal lives as Big Boi and his girlfriend had their first child, and Andre 3000 just got out of a 2 year relationship. They acquired their own recording studio and took their new outlook even further as Andre became a vegan, returned to high school to earn his diploma, stopped smoking weed and created a fashion style that made many people cringe, but it was unique. Along with the studio Andre purchased an SPI 1200 drum machine, MPC 3000 sampler, TASCAM mixing board, turntables and a stack of classic records. They had never produced a track before but utilized techniques they learned from the Dungeon Crew to create their first song ever “Elevators (Me & You)”.
Outkast “Elevators (Me & You)”
“ATLiens” was recorded in several Atlanta studios as well as 2 NY studios. 2/3rd of the album was produced by Organized Noize and Earthtone III which was a production team that included Outkast themselves along with Mr. DJ. Outkast also produced the track “Jazzy Belle”. The two were inspired by George Clinton’s style, but laid off the hard funk and focused more on strong echo reverb along with dub/reggae influenced sounds while adding an element of gospel into their music. The title breaks down ATL meaning Atlanta and aliens as they felt isolated from American culture. They ended up with 35 songs for the album and trimmed them down to 14. They wanted the best songs they had and aimed for listeners to not skip any tracks as they went thru the album. It debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard 200 chart selling 350,000 copies in the first 2 weeks. It has since been certified double platinum. It spent 33 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.
The three hit singles from the album were “Elevators (Me and You)”, “ATLiens”, and “Jazzy Belle”. Elevators illustrates Outkast’s rise to fame and also illustrates the unique friendship between the 2 members. It reached #12 and spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Upon release of the album LaFace created a promotion in conjuncture with Blockbuster where one lucky fan ended up winning a 1970’s Cadillac. The inside book was a 24 page comic foldout starring the duo who had to defend positive music against Nosamulli (the villain). Although it was “Stankonia” from 2000 that significantly brought Outkast into mainstream popularity, it is “ATLiens” that is arguably one of the best Rap albums ever made and definitely the best that Big Boi and Andre 3000 had created.
Outkast “Jazzy Belle”
The Source selected the album as one of its top 100 Best Rap Albums, Exclaim! had the album on their top 100 list, Hip Hop Connection ranked it #6 on their list “The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995-2005”, and Complex had it #5 on their list of “The 50 Greatest Sophomore Albums in Hip-Hop History”. The album has clearly made an impact and is extremely unique especially when comparing it to all the other music coming out of the South. Many Outkast fans will rave that this is their best album and the critics wouldn’t argue much with that. I can say they accomplished what they set out to do since when I put the album on I press play and never stop or skip a track until it is finished.