You Focus on the Past, Your Ass Will Be a Has What: Old Outkast Interviews

In honor of absolutely nothing, I dug up a few old Outkast interviews that had been hiding in plain sight.
By    November 2, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot about Outkast lately because I spend 82 percent of my waking life listening to Future, and you can’t understand Future outside of the context of the Dungeon Family. In particular, I think most about ATLiens because it is my favorite album ever and Future agrees with me, so we’re unquestionably 147 percent correct.

No need for essay or retrospective because¬†I’ve already written about the best band of the last half century at length. I don’t feel the need to repeat myself. I do it enough in regular life.¬†Instead, I spent 45.3 percent of the afternoon watching old Outkast interviews that I could dig up. All of them hiding in plain sight on YouTube, none with more than 20,000 views.

The first few come from Yo! MTV Raps circa ’95. Fab Five Freddy popping out of the Impala, slightly bewildered that he’s in Atlanta, treating them warmly but also like there was something exotic about the South. The sort of otherness that inevitably led them to feel like ATLIens. Other Southerners had appeared on Yo! but this is the first time for the entire Dungeon, shot live at the studio that created the best work since Abbey Road. Big Rube in the back, the one who they get all the knowledge from.

Then down in the Dungeon with Rico Wade, Outkast, and DJ from Organized Noize. It’s ’95 and filthy and this is before they get booed in New York. Rico Wade explains: “we get tired of folks rolling things in the street and decided we had love for this music thang and saw young brothers like Big Boi and ‘Dre. They came to us and we saw that they had skill and was like you wanna’ bust.”

Andre shirtless with the towel draped over in the Dungeon as dingy as your imagination, cold in the winter, steaming in the summer, uncomfortable as most of the spots where the greatest art was created. About 19 years old. Big Boi shouts out Eric B and Rakim and Kurtis Blow, but moves onto Goodie Mobb, PA, Mista and Society of Soul. He lets them know Atlanta is here.

In ’96, they’re back on Yo! MTV Raps without the host. Andre explaining the symbolism — about coming up, riding, the jungle scenes in the “Elevators” video representing the journey. They’re meditating, trying to get their inner spirit right. Big Boi talking about being on a higher level and shouting out AOL.Com e-mail addresses.

The next video finds them promoting Aquemini in Chicago, 1998. Andre quoting horoscopes and breaking down the deeper meaning of “Return of the G,” as thought it wasn’t obvious. He calls it “Outkast extreme, the feel of the first album and the second album, melted into one, turnt up..time to get live.” Explaining when we get into the studio, “we need the beats that’s banging for the East Coast heads and the musicality for the West Coast. The South we put it together and made it soulful and bring that funk back, like we did for the first album.” Atliens is extraterrestrial funk in his mind. No question. He then equates Outkast to Kool-Aid with sour and sweet sugar flavors. This is all you need to know really about the future. He says that he’ll never go solo. “It’ll be cool, but it won’t be fire like we want it.”

Always prophetic, the interviewer asks where he sees himself in 10 years. The answer: ‘man, I don’t see us rapping when we get really old because there comes a time when you need to chill out, but you can make music forever though. You can be 80 years old and on the beat machine, and if it’s jamming it’s jamming.”

You may have already saw the final video, recently produced by MTV News to celebrate the 15th Birthday of Stankonia. Since Andre shows no interest in nostalgia, the network mystifyingly relies on interview footage from Khaled — as though Cool Breeze and Witchdoctor and Big Rube couldn’t have dropped endless jewels. Cee-Lo is here but Wale gets more face time because nothing is real. Thankfully, Antwan Patton is here to re-tell the story of copping Stankonia from Bobby Brown and offer deeper context, even though I suspect they tricked him into thinking this was an interview about Big Grams. There’s also old footage, in which Andre already looks exhausted with the media treadmill. Who can blame him?

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