Start shaking those Polaroid pictures – 2014 is the year Outkast are back. With over 40 festivals across the globe scheduled, Andre 3000 and Big Boi have a busy few months ahead. But how well do you know the Atlanta rap duo? Here’s 50 geeky facts about the pair, starting with this gem: when Andre was a child, he smashed a copy of Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ because the b-side ‘God’ scared him.
In 2008, Big Boi collaborated with the Atlanta Ballet on ‘Big’, a production described as an examination of “the American dream – or the lack of it – from a 360-degree perspective”.
Wondering where they got their kaleidoscopic, genre-colliding sound from? It helps that Ray Murray, one of the Organized Noize producer trio responsible for much of their best-loved music, once owned a record shop stocking everything from jazz to folk to funk. “I must have listened to every single record in that place. Over 30,000 records. That’s a lot of different sounds I absorbed,” he told NME.
Andre played Jimi Hendrix in last year’s biopic ‘All Is By My Side”, which opened at Toronto Film Festival in September to strong reviews: The Guardian called Andre’s portrayal of the late Seattle guitarist “an impeccable impression”.
Andre 3000 is a big fan of the late Amy Winehouse and was so moved by her death he teamed with Beyonce to cover ‘Back To Black’ for last year’s ‘Great Gatsby’ soundtrack, curated by Jay Z. Not everyone was on board with their rendition though: “Terrible” was Winehouse’s father’s verdict on Twitter.
“I’m the sock king!” declared Big Boi in 2012, while announcing his very own signature range of socks, made in collaboration with fashion label Crooks & Castles. You know you’ve made it when you’ve got your own sock range.
‘Stankonia’ favourite ‘Ms. Jackson’ is a message to Andre’s former partner Erykah Badu’s mother, explaining his side of the story about the pair’s break-up. “I would probably never come out and tell Erykah’s mom, ‘I’m sorry for what went down.’ But music gives you the chance to say what you want to say. And her mom loved it. She’s like, “Where’s my publishing check?”
Outkast was formed to change the perception of hip-hop, according to Andre. “When I look at rap videos, it’s pretty much the same video over and over, a bunch of women in swimsuits and the guys rapping about money or jewels. Me and Big Boi wanted to change that.”
Andre’s music tutor growing up was Zafar Salik Saood, who had written and performed songs with Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie to name but a few.
Big Boi has his own personal strip club built into his home, complete with pole, mirrored walls and lighted floor.
Andre’s favourite meal to cook, in case you were wondering, is southern speciality kale. Check out his recipe here.
Their debut single, ‘Player’s Ball’ was released as a cassette single through LaFace Records in 1993. The record climbed to the top of the Billboard rap singles chart and stayed at No. 1 for six weeks.
The pair bonded in high school when Andre taught Big Boi how to roll his first joint. Andre’s since given up smoking weed entirely.
The video for ‘Hey Ya!’ is loosely based on the Beatles’ breakthrough 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. “I’m a huge, huge fan,” explained Andre in 2011.
‘Hey Ya!’ was developed from a scene in an abandoned screenplay Andre had set out to write, about a young romantic who moves to Paris and the women he encounters there. The track was the most downloaded song in the iTunes store’s first year of existence.
Contrary to Andre’s instructions in ‘Hey Ya!’, you shouldn’t shake a poloroid picture, according to Polaroid themselves – it can do damage to the photo, the company said in a statement after the song’s release. The track sparked a boom in sales of the retro film.
Big Boi has a problem with social media. “My Twitter timeline — it’s like when motherfuckers be putting flyers on your car when you’re at the club, in the parking lot. It’s just ridiculous. I have to mute so many people, because they keep sending me their song.”
Although he frequently pays tribute to his Atlanta roots, Big Boi is originally from Savannah, Georgia.
Big Boi’s dream is to work with Kate Bush. “I want her [Bush] to co-produce something with me. We’d produce a song and write it from scratch. I’d rather get her in a room and not have a plan and just let it come organically – it’s not like I’ve got a song and I’ll just be like, ‘I want you to sing this part right here.'”
The reason why Big is unlikely to ever do an album entirely solo: “I like people that love music to be around, so I can’t lock myself in a room alone. That’s no fun. I’d jack off all day if I did that.”
Outkast launched the career of Killer Mike, after featuring the Atlanta barber on their ‘Stankonia’ album.
‘Stankonia’ is credited with putting southern hip-hop on the rap map. Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, who collaborated on the song ‘Skew It on the Bar-B’ said: “Before that, the South just wasn’t played in New York. But that [album] was hot, the flows was crazy. The cycle changed. It really opened up the door for Southern rappers.”
Big shares the same birthday as Harry Styles and Laura Marling.
Andre came up with song lyrics for ‘Stankonia’ by writing words on the walls of his home: “I had planned to paint my house anyway… writing on the walls was just something I would do.” One lyric on his wall eventually inspired ‘Gasoline Dreams’.