In 1996, I saw the world and hip-hop music very different than I do today. I’m also one of the few that will admit that. You ask the general hip-hop delegation today, they were always on board for “new” “different” and “Left” when it came to visuals, style and music. Outside of people thinking Wu Tang Clan was so different, that wouldn’t describe me at all.
I was a teenager, gradually finding out who I was and what I was truly into. Outkast was group I knew of and liked but by 1996 I still didn’t actually own the cassette or CD for Southernplayalistic…. even though, I knew it was bumping. That’s what great homeys are for. My guys Kevin, JJ and Keith rocked with Outkast so hard, I didn’t need to purchase it. I heard it everyday and their videos were in heavy rotation on Rap City.
Although tame to what we see today, I remember vividly the visual for Elevators [Me & You] and how it was a real conversation piece. For me, it was one thing on my mind.
“Where are they with all these kids and why dude got the Haji from Johnny Quest hat on?”
Same thing for the ATLiens video and Jazzy Belle. Long story short I didn’t get it and it really didn’t look cool to me. Me not understanding the visuals left me to not wanting to listen to the music or understand it. I thought Outkast was going to continue to “Keep It Player” so I was ready for more of that. At that time, artist didn’t take you somewhere, just to drop you off and comeback to pick you up in a different car. It was very unique at the time and it was honestly beyond my creative mind.
I owe my appreciation and understanding of the ATLiens album [Which we at first pronounced “AT LEE-ANS” before we heard the album] to two people; Keith and J Dub. Them playing and quoting this album till even I was blue in the face really helped it register.
Dub had the Omega and was rolling hard to ATLiens and Keith made it his rap life mission to know and understand every bar Andre spit on this album. They honestly quoted and played it so much I had no choice but to like it. Even though the hook to “Wheelz of Steel” annoyed me, I couldn’t front on the verses. Overtime, I learned, I just can’t front on this album.
I was kind of hoping “Benz or Beamer” would make this album, I loved that song. [First video to debut the dance called the “Bankhead Bounce”]
When Andre said “The South got Something to say..” he wasn’t lying. Outkast went from being “pretty dope to be from the south” to “great lyricist, period” with this album. The range of topic, the lyricism, the storytelling and just the overall sound of ATLiens is honestly mind blowing. To this very day artist are trying to make records like “Jazzy Belle”, “Mainstream” and “Ova Da Wudz.” The ATLiens album change the plight of the Southern Emcee forever. The cultural impact of this album started a wave of strong lyrical artist that are legends in hip-hop today.
Very rarely do the critics and the overall general public “get it” at the same time, but this time they did and to be real, I’m kind of kicking myself that I missed out on enjoying the exciting end of this moment. I could have been one of the certified million that purchased this album within 4 months, but I wasn’t. At least I can admit it though. Like the start of the ATLiens video said; This album is the story of two visionaries. Outkast. Not of this world. I seen what was up in time.
Salute to Outkast and their very dope album called ATLiens. The content and creativity of this album was ahead of the 1996 curve. Off it’s impact alone, it can be regarded as a classic.