On this day in Hip Hop history, the more eccentric half of the prolific duo OutKast, André 3000, was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Since his debut, André 3K has been revolutionizing Hip Hop by pushing the boundaries of its culture and aesthetic. Alongside Big Boi, Organized Noize and the rest of the Dungeon Family, it can be argued André 3000 helped put Atlanta on the map during a time where southern rap was only something for the underground.
Born André Lauren Benjamin, Dré’s obsession with music began in high school when he met his partner in crime Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Upon graduation, the two signed with the Atlanta-based LaFace Records and released their debut album Southernplayalisticadilacmuzik in 1994. The platinum success of this project led to OutKast gaining respect as a group. At the 1995 Source Awards the group was awarded the Best New Rap Group of the Year award beating out N.W.A. (and getting booed of the stage because of it). Regardless of the disapproval, André accepted the award saying, “The South got something to say,” setting the tone for the rest of the group’s career, whether it was his intention or not.
Over the next few years, OutKast began to grow and evolve as artists creating a new sounding Afro-futuristic street rap that rang true to their unique experiences growing up in Atlanta while trying to break the mold of what was becoming popular in Hip Hop.
On their second LP ATLiens, the duo took an open stand against the materialistic rap industry in attempt to educate their listeners and open their minds rather than appeal to their lust for the “finer things in life.” This album was hailed by critics across the board for its composition and is a classic album of Hip Hop that can stand up to the best of them.
The group’s second and third LPs Aquemini and Stankonia were on the same wave as ATLiens with Aquemini getting even deeper consciously touching on some of the more sensitive aspects of growing up in the slums of the south while 2002 Best Rap Album Stankonia remained slightly more radio friendly containing timeless hits like “So Fresh and So Clean” and Grammy award winning “Ms. Jackson.” Both albums went multi-platinum and made appearances on top album charts across the globe.
In 2001 the group released their greatest hits album containing a few original tracks, one of which being their Grammy winning track “The Whole World” featuring Killer Mike. This single won the award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
In 2003 OutKast released their most popular album to date Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. This unique double LP allowed OutKast to temporarily split apart work separately on a single album that would showcase their individual styles as artists. On this project the world was introduced to a side of André 3000 that had not yet been revealed to the public. His contribution to the project showed a complete mirror image to the hard, speaker knocking, trunk rattling sound that Big Boi brought to the tandem. On this album, André wore his heart on his sleeve, singing more than rapping about a subject that all of humanity can relate to, love. This album was nominated for six Grammys winning Album of the Year, Best Urban/Alternative Performance for “Hey Ya!” and Best Rap Album also going 11-times platinum (or diamond) in the United states and peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and UK album chart.
In 2006, the group released both a feature film and their final album, both titled Idlewild. Both the film and the album had a very positive critical response with the album going platinum in the United States and the film grossed $12,571,185 in box office. Both the film and the album were set around the fiction town of Idelwild, Georgia during prohibition. Although it was not as successful as its predecessor, it was a fitting farewell to OutKast who have yet to release a joint album since its release.
Since the end of OutKast’s active career, they do still perform as a duo. André 3000 has ventured into many other forms of art, securing himself and a cultural icon in Hip Hop. He has since taken roles in films playing alongside Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and even starring as Jimi Hendrix in his biopic Jimi: All is By My Side. He has also been regarded as a trend setting fashion icon and in 2008 launched his clothing line Benjamin Bixby, inspired by the style trends of 1935 football players on and off the field. From 2006-2008, Dre even had his own cartoon on Cartoon Network called Class of 3000 teaching children about creative independence and teaching life lessons through music.
3 Stacks has been nominated for 21 Grammys, winning six and is one of the most respected artists in music. His influence spans to countless artists and he has inspired children and adults alike to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in. From everyone here at The Source Magazine, happy born day André Benjamin. May you see many more years of success.