I have yet to meet someone who disproves my theory that Outkast is universally loved. Even my parents, musical luddites from the 1980s’ hair-metal scene, admit their acceptance of the now-legendary duo. Whenever the first piano-laden bars of “Roses” comes on at a party, it’s nearly impossible for all in attendance not to scream “Caroline!” in the next few seconds. Simply put, everyone loves Outkast.
However, not everyone appreciates the members of Outkast to their fullest extent. If I asked you to rattle off the two members of the group, you would easily think of the longhaired, mustachioed, bandana-adorning, southernplayalistic André 3000, whose silky-smooth south-of-the-Mason-Dixon flow skyrocketed him to becoming acclaimed as one of the greatest rappers of all time. He’s a hip-hop icon at this point, revered by everyone from Kendrick (“Control”) to Eminem (“ ’Til I Collapse”).
But what about that other guy? The shorter one, who jumps on a verse every now and again? The guy on the “Speakerboxxx” side of their fifth album? Eh, forget it. It will come to me eventually …
Big Boi, André’s cornrowed compadré, is often viewed as the less desirable member of Outkast. Yet there is no doubt that Big Boi is a major contributor to the group’s success — along with André, producing trio Organized Noize and producer Mr. DJ — and proves to be a certified rapper himself. Most listeners would agree that he even upstages his more popular bandmate on several of the group’s tracks, including “Aquemini,” “Ghetto Musick,” “ATLiens,” and “The Way You Move” (an Outkast song where André is not present at all).
So why don’t people take notice of the man from the land of ATL, who’s cooler than a polar bear’s toenails and a self-proclaimed microphone fiend?
What do you get for unintentionally upstaging one of the greatest of all time? Apparently, not much.
My guess is that even though Big Boi represented half of a universally acclaimed group, he often fell in the shadow of the more charismatic André 3000, who penned major solo hits while in Outkast, such as “Hey Ya” and “Roses,” as well as singing the hooks to many of the duo’s popular songs like “Ms. Jackson,” “So Fresh, So Clean” and “Elevators (Me and You).”
To pose an analogy, André existed as the lead guitar, while Big Boi was the bass.
Although falling short of the duo’s spotlight, Big Boi did not fail to deliver some of the most memorable verses during the group’s 13-year tenure. The first verse of “ATLiens,” second verse of “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad),” and first verse of “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” strengthen the artist’s résumé and credentials.
Following Idlewild, Outkast’s final effort, Big Boi went on to release two well-received solo albums: 2010’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty and 2012’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. The track “Shutterbugg,” off the former, showcases Big Boi’s ability to pull together and hold a hip-hop track, even though another artist named Cutty sings the hook.
In addition to his work with Outkast and as a solo artist, Big Boi has been featured on songs by acclaimed artists such as Jay Z, Run the Jewels, Rick Ross, Carlos Santana, Janelle Monáe, Mary J. Blige and many others.
However, all of this support is not to say that I do not think Big Boi is better than André 3000. The last thing I want to do is seem like a Big Boi apologist. It’s a matter of preference between the two, and if I had to choose, I would choose André due to his amazing flow and wordplay.
Yet, the point is that I would prefer to have Big Boi on the song as well. Outkast was a duo, not a single artist, either way. The argument of which member proved to be the better MC is irrelevant, because while together, André 3000 and Big Boi released some of the best hip-hop records to which the world has been exposed, even if one of them gets more credit for it.
So instead of arguing internally about this forever, I’m just going to kick it in my lawn chair, with some nice down-home barbeque and wait for my mechanic to tell me I can pick up my Caddy from the shop. Those new rims are gonna be dope.
Luke Furman is a freshman studying journalism and a Campus writer for The Post. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter at @LukeFurmanOU.