Hit ParadeSlate

Hit Parade (encore): Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture Edition

How OutKast rose above the ’90s rap feud between East and West by redirecting the music South.

This episode was released in May 2020 exclusively for Slate Plus listeners. As of August 2023, it’s available for non-subscribers.

Talk about ’90s rap, and most music fans will throw around the word “gangsta” and talk about the East Coast–West Coast feud that tragically brought down Biggie and Tupac. But one rap group, OutKast, quite literally rose above the fray: At the 1995 Source Awards, while East and West were bickering with each other, OutKast’s André Benjamin took the mic and told the rap faithful that hip-hop’s future was in the South. For the next quarter century, he was proved indisputably correct.

OutKast brought about this sea change by conceiving of hip-hop as everything music: funk, soul, pop, club, even country and indie all found their way into André and Big Boi’s music. By the time of their final studio album, they had pulled away almost fully from pure rap—and were rewarded with their biggest hits ever, a No. 1 smash each for Big Boi and André. Including that immortal jam that taught you, the fellas and the ladies—including all Beyoncés and Lucy Lius—what’s cooler than being cool.

Podcast production by Benjamin Frisch (2023 encore by Kevin Bendis).

Content retrieved from: https://slate.com/podcasts/hit-parade/2020/05/outkast-shifted-rap-to-atlanta.