Outkast put Atlanta on the hip-hop map. Classmates from Tri-Cities High School, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and André “André 3000” Benjamin got their big break in the unlikeliest of places. “We performed outside a beauty supply store,” says Big Boi, “rhyming over A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Scenario’ remix. [Organized Noize’s] Rico Wade loved it and sent us to [bare-bones production studio] the Dungeon, where it all started.” One minute they were sixteen, rapping in a basement, and the next they were signing a record deal with L.A. Reid and LaFace records. Since 1992 Outkast has won six Grammys, along the way fusing rap, funk, and rock into a transcendent sound. Benjamin has been acting—his last film was 2008’s Semi-Pro—while Big Boi continues to make music and run Purple Ribbon Records. (He’s halfway through his second solo album, tentatively titled Daddy Fat Sax: Soul Funk Crusader.) He’s also working on a ballet, following up on 2008’s Big with the Atlanta Ballet. And there’s Outkast clothing, a Big Boi shoe, his Big Kidz Foundation, and of course, the next Outkast album, rumored to be imminent. “It just has to be jamming, man. I’m never moving away from Atlanta. The creative energy here is just incredible.”
Gal Pals The Indigo Girls, whom they met at a Grammy nomination party a few years ago. “I like all kinds of music,” says Patton.
Chic-y In 2008 Benjamin started a clothing line modeled after 1930s college football uniforms. Benjamin Bixby made him a GQ Best New Menswear Designers finalist in 2009, but the brand appears to have tanked.
Singled Out Patton wishes he’d released “Unhappy,” the third track on Speakerboxxx, as a single: “That’s one of my favorite songs ever.”
Illustration by Pablo