OutKast Madness – Results and Reflections

Once again we return for another one of our Madness brackets! This time we head to the South and to an act who arguably brought the world’s attention away from both the East and West coast – along with a sound that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. OutKast have innovated the genre and challenged our ears for over a decade and, while we may not get another album from the duo (we can but hope), their impact can still be felt today.

As with our previous Madness brackets of Atmosphere and the many masks of MF DOOM, hit the link to download your own bracket. Just in time for the festive period, what better way to spend time with your family than a cheese platter, some mulled wine and an out and out argument over which ‘Kast song reigns supreme. You’ll be having Grandma quarrelling with your Aunt about “fish n’ grits and all that pimp shit” in no time!

Check out the SOUTHSIDERS crew’s results and thoughts on proceedings below and let us know you eventual winner.


Tiernan

Undeniably, OutKast’s catalogue is prestigious, however, initial predictions would lead me to back tracks from either ATLiens or Aquemini taking the win. That said, I was interested to find out how the songs from other projects would fare. As always though, the night descended into fraught discussion, generous volumes of the national drink and a hell of a lot of laughter. Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

By the penultimate round (8 tracks left), every album bar Speakerboxx and Idlewild had a horse in the race, however, after that round, three of the four remaining came from Aquemini. The sole competitor was the laid back classic “Elevators (Me and You)” off ATLiens, with the odds in its favour the titular track from Aquemini clinched the victory – and deservedly so. An atmospheric masterpiece, resplendent with its sparse soundtrack of drums, percussion and guitars, André 3000 and Big Boi effortlessly floating over the top and the chorus tying everything together. André’s last verse in particular is just a pure exhibition in flow.

In my own particular bracket, on reflection, I found an affinity for Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and ATLiens with the final eight consisting of four and two songs respectively with ‘Mighty “O”‘ and ‘Aquemini’ holding their own. Ultimately, ‘Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)’ won out the fierce contest. The final bar states: “we just drop bombs” and this is certainly one of them (although, their arsenal is well-stocked to be fair).

Craig L

As the proud host of this rendition of Madness, I was pleased to take a back seat from voting rights until my namesake lost his way to the Jameson’s for a time, thereby allowing me some of the say.

First thing I want to say is the whole set-up is fantastic. What a collection of songs to debate. Tiernan and Thomas did great work here. As we’ve been asking some of our interviewees which album – ATLiens or Aquemini – they prefer, it was interesting to see the strength of both play out. Although I was a mere spectator for the early voting I held a minute’s silence in my head for the demise of ’13th Floor/Growing Old’. What a track.

As the party wore on some of the heavyweights got played (loud) and we had a great time listening to ‘Ms. Jackson’ and ‘Gasoline Dreams’. All the while I was quietly hoping to see ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Aquemini’ stay in the game. And although I try not to keep a predestined winner in mind, I was pretty happy that ‘Aquemini’ came out on top. On a personal level it’s been one of those songs that just sticks in the soul.

What a discography to mess with. A great night overall. Can’t wait for the next one.

David

This was an interesting Madness for me as it’s the first one I’ve gone into convinced of my personal winner – ‘Rosa Parks’. There are so many great OutKast tracks but for me ‘Rosa Parks’ combines every element that makes them so great while simultaneously being a song that nobody but OutKast could possibly have made. So my biggest disappointment of the night was when it fell at the penultimate hurdle. Second was the ludicrous group decision to go with ‘Ain’t No Thang’ over ‘So Fresh, So Clean’ which is patently absurd. That being said, the final four was insanely competitive. Any one of them would have been a very worthy winner.  In fact by the second round we were losing tracks which could have been a winner for lesser artists. One thing that made me very happy was seeing ‘Gasoline Dreams’ get through to the final eight as, although generally not put in the top tier of ‘Kast tracks, it’s a bona fide banger.  Looking back on it, ‘Aquemini’ is a worthy victor but I’ll personally never stop championing RP as the best they’ve ever done. 

Jason

I took notes going into this one for two reasons; – a fear this exercise would slowly turn into ‘André 3000 Madness’ and that I would be as sober as a judge thus unable to hold any form of reasonable counter-argument. Neither of these two things happened thankfully.

Despite the group currently being torn between what is the better LP – Aquemini or ATLiens – I don’t think any member of our group would decry the victor, the masterful ‘Aquemini.’ “Nothing lasts forever, nothing is for certain/ But until they close the curtain/ It’s him and I/ Aquemini.” On their third album, this was a watershed moment, two individuals uniting as something greater than the sum of their parts.

The champion of my personal bracket was ‘Elevators (Me & You)’ from OutKast’s impeccable sophomore LP ATLiens. Sometimes songs don’t require to be examined with a fine-tooth comb, sometimes music does something that can’t be explained, only felt. There’s a reason Childish Gambino chose this song to accompany the final scene of season one of Atlanta.

Although certain individuals memories of the night are no more than fingerprints on an abandoned handrail, this turned out to be a worthwhile exercise full of ferocious debate and approached with appreciation for the greatest duo in hip-hop history.

Craig Mc

Well, well, well….what can I say? Perhaps the more important question is actually – what can I remember? I may have had a tad too much Jameson and crashed, crashed, craaaashed into a ditch…..

However, the 64 song selection was undoubtedly one of the best we’ve pulled together (although it could be argued there were a few personal favourites amongst the group that were omitted, but you can’t please everyone) and with a discography full of genre-defining and genre-bending classics, it was really never gonna disappoint!

The selection ranged from the sparse Deep South cuts that introduced them like ‘Ain’t No Thang’ and ‘Git Up, Git Out’, through the funky, future sounds of ‘Elevators (Me & You)’ and ‘Spottieottiedopaliscious’ to their later crossover hits like ‘Hey Ya’ and ‘Ms. Jackson’, which for me meant that any attempt at predicting a potential winner was a futile endeavour.

Whittling down 64 to 32 was so much fun – heated discussion, banter, alcohol was all had in abundance – and that for me was where I boarded the Elevators which sadly took me past the 13th Floor and left me with a blank Spottieottie which had to be filled in the next day…

A worthy winner in ‘Elevators (Me and You)’ and a lacklustre review of the evening from me, hopefully the OutKast related puns make up for it!

Thomas

Man, I love OutKast.

Three Stacks and Daddy Fat Sax boast one of my favourite discographies in music and there was palpable excitement when the crew sat down to debate, drink (abusively) and listen to two of the finest emcees in rap.

Straight off, I found myself gushing about the invigorating sound of Aquemini’s ‘Chonkyfire’, especially Andre’s remarkable introduction and the twisted-out verbiage of Atlanta slang. A heated debate about the merits of the 2003 pop-chart juggernaut ‘Hey Ya!’ ensued before I canvassed the group to support one of my all-time favourite tracks, “13th Floor/Growing Old” (spoiler alert: the crew went in a different direction – philistines!).

The eclectic sound of the group’s music is a constant reminder of their brilliance and innovation, at one point leading me to say: “OutKast not sounding like OutKast is actually very OutKast” – you get what I mean.

Across 64 songs. the amount of bonafide hits, slept-on jams, underrated bangers, and creative marvels were a joy to behold – Big Boi and Dre boast a hell of a catalogue. Seriously, this might be the best Madness we’ve ever pulled together.

In the end, the cream rises to the top, a fitting final two pit ATLiens versus Aquemini (we are doomed to debate this to eternity) with ‘Elevators (Me & You) squaring off against ‘Aquemini’. On the latter, André 3000’s jaw-dropping second verse swung it for me. The rhyme scheme is absurd in its audacity and so effortlessly pristine; much like the man himself.

Between the heavy drinking and fractured arguments, nights like these shorten your lifespan – maybe that’s the trade-off for a life worth living.

Man, I love OutKast — did I mention I love OutKast?

 

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