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How OutKast Influenced The Hip-Hop Game

Until the 1990s, the best MCs ever only came from the East and West coasts. That was until The Dungeon Family came along later in the decade, consisting of experimental groups like Goodie Mob and OutKast.

The second this music collective from Atlanta came onto the scene; the Southern culture began to shine. We’re looking at how they changed the rap game forever to celebrate OutKast’s influence on hip-hop.

They stopped the East Coast vs West Coast feud

There was a strong conflict between the East and West Coasts for a very long time. While this didn’t solely come down to hip-hop, the nature of the culture meant that it only added fuel to the fire.

Around 1995, the conflict between coasts had never been more heated. Death Row and Bad Boy Records were taking hits at each other at every opportunity, and the fear of a huge eruption loomed over everyone’s heads.

The ‘95 Source Awards provided the perfect opportunity for both coasts to compete against each other; the competitive tally would signal which coast was the “better” coast.

Amidst the competitive drama, the room fell silent as a small duo named OutKast won the Best New Rap Group award. Awarding this trophy to a hip-hop group from the South was undoubtedly diplomatic, as a softener for the rising tensions between East and West. However, no matter the reasoning behind this award, it gave OutKast the pedestal to rise to fame. And that they did!

They made a name for Atlanta

Image credit: CNN

Before OutKast started turning heads on other coasts, the hip-hop scene in Atlanta was pretty confined. While artists like Arrested Development and Kilo Ali briefly sparked some interest elsewhere, rappers from the more dominant coasts would always send them back to where they came from. The media rarely gives Southern or Northern artists a single ounce of airtime.

The above was true until OutKast received the Best New Rap Group peace offering. While East and West Coast rappers initially saw their win as an insult, André 3000 ignored the boos and put Atlanta on the map for good.

You probably didn’t know many things about André 3000, but this shouldn’t be one of them. From the moment André announced that “the South has got something to say,” The Dungeon Family immediately became legendary. The Atlanta scene was finally certified in hip-hop.

Did you know that OutKast’s album Aquemini uses the bitter crowd response from the Source Awards in its outro?

They influenced the world of fashion

Image credit: Pitchfork

André was never afraid to express himself through his appearance. He looked like a completely different person on every album cover, experimenting with different styles and always thinking outside the box.

While dressing loudly and proudly in the music industry wasn’t unusual, hip-hop was a culture that only knew of a certain type of streetwear. As we said before, hip-hop is seen as a culture with a cookie-cutter appearance. André gave this the middle finger, wearing chunky glasses and flowy fabrics, which no one had seen before, not even in Atlanta.

Although OutKast tried – and failed – to launch the OutKast Clothing Company, this worked in the duo’s favor. André stated, “At the end of the day, it’s your world. Other people’s opinion about how you look is just opinion. It’s all about how you feel. It’s all a conversation, and you speak with your clothes.”. This further influenced the fashion game, reminding everyone that being unique is okay.

They thought about the younger generation

Image credit: Cartoon Network

Did you know OutKast was the first rapper to tap into the kids’ entertainment industry? The animated kids’ show Class of 3000 was described as absolute gold, incorporating weird and wacky characters with a new song in every episode. As the show’s name might suggest, André 3000 composed pretty much every song alongside Pat Irwin. They even made a super catchy intro that rings in our heads to this very day.

Although Class of 3000 only ran for two seasons, it was yet another bold move by the OutKast rapper that further changed the rap game forever. Rappers have tried and failed to produce similar works of art. However, none have quite impacted the younger generations as OutKast did.

Pretty influential, right?

Apart from making some absolute tunes and producing award-winning work, OutKast undeniably changed the rap game forever for all the right reasons. Whether tapping into the fashion industry or settling a long-term divide between coasts, hip-hop culture has a lot to thank this Atlanta duo for.

Kelvin, our design whiz and audio tech aficionado, pens articles on audio, home technology, and hip-hop for Upbeat Geek. With a keen eye on the latest from soundbars to earbuds, Kelvin decodes the tech world for our readers. His love for travel, concerts, and a music-driven creative career underscores his expertise. Kelvin’s writing not only covers the intricacies of audio and home technology but also dives into the vibrant world of hip-hop.

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