Outkast redefined 90s hip hop and put Atlanta on the hip hop map with records that would forever change the hip hop landscape. The duo has proved that allowing oneself to evolve is one of the key ingredients of success in the rap game. Outkast was composed of two Atlanta-based rappers, Andre “3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, who formed the group in 1992 when they were in high school. The duo went on to release six albums and are widely regarded as one of the best hip-hop acts to ever come out of Atlanta. In this article, we rank the six Outkast albums from the worst to the very best. Read on, listen on, and probably tell us how you would rate these incredible albums.
This 25 track album was released as the soundtrack to the duo’s 2006 musical film with the same name. Although the album was less of a soundtrack and more of a companion film, it featured seven songs for the Idlewild film. The songs in the album were well conceptualized to match the movie itself and featured some jazz and swing blues that meet contemporary hip-hop standards. For an album that is considered their worst, Idlewild is probably Outkast’s most underrated album. Probably it is because the duo’s standards can only be compared to their previous releases, which in that case makes the album slightly lower in quality. The album made its debut on the US billboard 200 at number two before dropping to number seven in its second week. However, the album was certified platinum by the RIAA in August 2006 after shipping more than one million copies. My most favorite tracks in the album are “Peaches,” “Call the Law,” and “The Train.
By the time Outkast dropped this album, they really didn’t have a lot to prove. The album was a testament to their mastery of hip hop. The album was released in 2000, and it portrayed a playful take on modern American culture while also staying true to hip hop. The album featured a new generation of musicians such as Kanye West and Janelle Monae, who provided experimental rock and rave-influenced sounds. Stankonia was full of hits, and it was the duo’s last collaborative album rather than solo projects put together. Dre and Big Boi create the perfect balance, which can be felt throughout the song. The album contained BOB, a politically charged banger with fire lyrics and swashbuckling guitars that made it seem as if the duo wanted to defy the hip hop formula. The most popular song on the album was Ms. Jackson which details the breakup between Dre and his partner, who was rumored to be Erykah Badu. Stankonia stood out on its own and is regarded as one of hip hop’s greatest albums.
Topping Stankonia was always going to be a challenging task, particularly at a time when the future of the duo was uncertain. Speakerboxx was released in September 2003 as a double album, and it runs for two hours which are spread across solo albums from the duo. The album featured Southern hip hop influences blended with a p-funk influence. Throughout their career, Big Boi has always been the underrated member of the group, but in this album, we saw him coming of age and holding his own. The album was a true Atlanta affair, with Big Boi inviting fellow Atlanta newcomers such as Lil Jon and Ludacris. Big Boi’s side features some great songs, such as “I Like The Way You Move,” which features Sleep Brown and is rooted incredible street rhymes lyrics of a very high level. On the other hand, Dre’s side was quite experimental, with him exploring themes of love and relationships while also playing instruments. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 2004 awards, with the track “Hey Ya!” winning Best Urban Alternative Performance.
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik remains an undisputed classic and a game-changer for southern rap. The album was released in 1994 and saw the duo make a statement on life in the Southern suburbs as an African American. The album was recorded when both Big Boi and Dre were still teenagers, and it featured repetitive hooks and Southern slang. The album had multiple hits and peaked at position 20 on the US Billboard 200 before being certified platinum a year after its release. The album songs are a great listen, with most of them finding a place in the hearts and ears of rap fans. “Players Ball” was the duo’s first bonafide hit, which has become one of their signature songs to date. The album’s title track also gained significant popularity due to its streetwise Southern sound with lyrics that many people resonated with. However, “Git Up, Git Out” proved to be the duo’s most impactful track in the album, with poignant lyrics that showed that the duo had come of age.
Outkast’s second studio album, ATliens, showed how the duo had evolved, and it also forced hip-hop to develop. The album discusses several issues, among them the duo’s urban life as hustlers, and it incorporates elements of gospel and dub in its compositions. The album was received well by critics who appreciated its lyrical content with great singles such as “Jazzy Belle” and “Elevators (Me and You).” ATLiens made its debut on the US Billboard 200 chart at position two and is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
If you ask many Outkast fans, they will probably tell you that Aquemini is the album that turned them into raving Outkast fans. For a period with many hip hop peaks, Aquemini was a rap high-point of the 90s. The album proved that excellent hip hop music could also come from Atlanta and not only from the East Coast and West Coast, which had dominated the scene for several years. The album was released in 1998, and it explores themes such as addiction, human nature, and relationships. The album was influenced by a large number of artists who would be seen entering and exiting the studio throughout the album production. The album featured live instrumentation that included guitars and pianos, which Big Boi described as quite experimental. The album received widespread acclaim from critics, with Steve Huey of AllMusic describing it as a stroke of brilliance.