Greeting folks! This will be my final post for 2018. I want to thank you all for supporting this blog and following me on my trot down memory lane. I wish you all a Happy Holiday season and a great 2019! Enjoy the read.
Believe it or not, young bucks, but there was a time when New York and Cali dominated and owned hip-hop, way back in the old days, known as the nineties. I don’t think anyone would argue that Atlanta is currently hip-hop’s hot spot. And let me make myself clear, that when I say “hot” I’m referring to charts, radio play and sales, not quality. Atlanta’s reign has lasted quite a while now, going back to the early 2000’s with acts like Lil Jon, Ludacris, Young Jeezy and T.I. and more currently, Gucci Mane and Migos. But none of the names listed above would be relevant if it wasn’t for the subject of today’s post. The Atlanta hip-hop pioneers who put the city on the map and would soon take over the world, Outkast.
Andre “3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton met as teenagers and went to the same high school in the East Point section of Atlanta. The two were both aspiring rappers who begin to spit together, things clicked and they decided to form a group. Legend has it the duo wanted to call the group The Misfits, but since that name was already being used they went with a synonym for “misfit”, “outcast” and of course misspelled it, cause that’s what rappers do. Outkast would soon connect with Goodie Mob and the production team Organized Noize (which is the trio of Rico Wade, Patrick “Sleepy” Brown and Ray Murray) and started making music. Eventually, the duo would catch the ear of the R&B legends Babyface and L.A. Reid, and would become the first hip-hop group signed to their LaFace Records, where they would release their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik(which I’ll be abbreviating as SPCM for the remainder of this post, because that’s too many damn characters to keep typing out).
Organized Noize (with help from a handful of other musicians) would handle all the production work on SPCM, and thanks largely to the sizzling hot lead single (more on that in a minute), the album would earn the duo a platinum plaque. More importantly, the album was a critical darling that many consider a classic record that gave Atlanta hip-hop credibility.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed all of the singles from the album, I never checked for SPCM back in ’94. I didn’t really get into Outkast until their monster follow-up, ATLiens in ’96. I bought SPCM about ten years ago and have listened to it a few times over the years, but not enough to form a legitimate opinion about it. Hopefully, living with it for the next few weeks will help me gain some clarity.
Peaches (Intro) – SPCM opens with some out of tune horns and a slight cymbal rattle that stands in for the instrumental, while a sexy-voiced southern belle named Peaches (get it? Georgia? Peaches?) welcomes the listener to Atlanta and the album. I wonder if Peaches is supposed to be the shapely and curvaceous caricatured vixen on the face of the cd, which I’m sure was inspired by the sultry Tour Guide that graced a few of A Tribe Called Quest’s album covers (you like how I snuck that Tribe Degrees of Separation in there, don’t ya?).
Myintrotoletuknow – Organized Noize lays down a dusty gravel road backdrop accompanied by some raw live guitar licks, as Big Boi and Andre introduce the listener to Outkast, as well as Atlanta. Big Boi sets the tone with a solid verse (where he shares an interesting theory that “back in the day when we was slaves, I bet we was some cool as niggas”) before 3 Stacks finishes up, displaying early signs of some of the wit that would eventually make him one of the greatest to ever bless a mic (“I gots a lot of shit up on my mind, I wipe the boo boo from my brain then I finish up my rhyme”). Great way to kick things off.
Ain’t No Thang – Organized Noize comes right back with a smooth mid-tempo groove (with more funky live guitar licks) that Big Boi and 3000 use to get the most gangster that I recall the duo, collectively, being. Big Boi threatens to “wet them up like cereal” while Andre boasts “one is in the air and one is in the chamber, y ‘all ask me what the fuck I’m doing, I’m releasing anger.” And I loved every second of it.
Welcome to Atlanta (Interlude) – Interlude to set up the next song…
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik – This title track was the album’s second single, and the country fried instrumentation fits the song’s title to a tee. Dre and Big Boi compliment it well, as they serve it up with (as Big Boi so elegantly puts it) “some southern hospitality”. This is a certified hip-hop classic that sounds as yummy as fried chicken, collard greens and sweet potato pie.
Call of Da Wild – Outkast invites a few of their Dungeon Family bredrin from Goodie Mob (that the liner notes spells “Goody Mob”) to join them on this track. T-Mo and Khujo spit verses along side Dre and Boi, while Cee-Lo (who legend has it almost became the third member of Outkast when they started the group…how ill would that have been? But on the flip side, how terrible would Goodie Mob have been without him?) is delegated to sing the hook. I wasn’t crazy about any of the verses, the hook (and I normally love Cee-Lo’s singing) or the instrumental.
Player’s Ball – Most of you probably forgot (or never knew) that this song was originally released on the A LaFace Family Christmas album at the tail end of 1993, but would also double as SPCM‘s lead single, hence Boi and Dre’s odd Christmas references mixed in amongst their southern playalistic slang. Organized Noize even adds sleigh bells at the beginning of the song to give it more Christmas cheer. This was a monster radio hit and easily the biggest hit from the album. Another certified hip-hip classic.
Claimin’ True – Organized Noize and company keep the heat coming as they serve up this nasty bluesy instrumental for Boi and Dre to talk their shit over. Boi claims to have been “a player since the age of two”, while Dre says he started packing a “shank up in his socks when he started kindergarten”. I doubt that either of these claims are true, but this song is still bananas.
Club Donkey Ass (Interlude) – Interlude to set up the next song…
Funky Ride – Dre and Boi take a breather, while Organized Noize and friends turn some live instrumentation into a smooth groove that Society of Soul (whom Sleepy Brown was also a part of) laces with passable vocals. This works out to be an enjoyable intermission.
Flim Flam (Interlude) – Another interlude to set up the next song. The song playing in the background is kind of muffled, but the bass line on the instrumental is hard. If anybody has info on that song, hit me in the comments.
Git Up, Git Out – This was the third and final single from SPCM. Cee-Lo and Big Gipp join Boi and Dre as they each spit a verse encouraging brothers to put down the weed, get off they asses and do something with their lives. Cee-Lo easily spits the strongest verse of the four, and his catchy and very potent hook, along with the dope twangy instrumental, carry the weight on this song.
True Dat (Interlude) – Big Rube (who would become a regular on Outkast albums) uses this interlude to give a brief explanation on the meaning of the group’s name.
Crumblin’ Erb – Organized Noize and the band cook up this smooth mid-tempo groove that Boi and Dre use to rationalize their weed usage. The duo spits decent rhymes, but the instrumental (largely thanks to the live guitar, bass and organ) and the Sleepy Brown led slick hook are what truly carry this song.
Hootie Hoo – Warning: The hook on this joint is very addictive and becomes an even harder habit to break when combined with the hard stripped down backdrop that our hosts use to spew random ratchet rhymes over.
D.E.E.P. – This must have been one of the last songs recorded for SPCM, as it’s the most militant song on the album (Dre confesses “You won’t catch me spreading no white thighs, I only see afro bitches up in my eyes” and Boi spews “You d-e-v-i-l, the cave is where you dwell, so stay up out the way it’s beginning to smell like dog, yeah”) and sounds the closest to what the duo would sound like on their sophomore effort, ATLiens. Dre steals the show with his second verse, which is also the strongest bars on the album: “Ya’ll think I’m stupid, cause I shoots ’em up like Cupid, and if you gave me a basketball I’ll show you how to shoot it, my head’s polluted, cause I’m zooted, vibin’ to the problem, if a pair of Jordans came out y’all figure that I got ’em, but no I don’t because I don’t be havin’ funds, the gold that I’m wearin’ is really made out of bronze, it weighs a ton and be makin’ my neck turn green, and I gots a criminal record that will never come clean”. The instrumental work didn’t do it for me, but Boi and, especially Dre, kept me entertained.
Player’s Ball (Reprise) – Outkast closes out SPCM with this reprise of the album’s biggest hit. In place of Boi and Dre’s verses, Society of Soul sings new lines over a remixed instrumental that incorporates techno-ish drums and some pretty piano chords (there is a remix of this song with this instrumental and Outkast’s original verses on it). I actually like this instrumental better than the original.
Andre 3000 is absolutely in my top ten emcees of all time list (and he should at least be in your top 20). SPCM finds him still blossoming into the stellar emcee that the world would soon come to love, but he still does a respectable job on the mic, and this album is the closest he and Big Boi would ever be to equals with the rhymes. The true star of SPCM is the production, courtesy of Organized Noize, and just as importantly, the live instrumentation brought you by a crew of musicians (Guitar: Craig Love and Edward Stroud, Bass: Preston Crump, Marq Jefferson and Colin Wolfe, Organ and Piano: Kenneth Wright, Saxophone: Jeff Sparks), who collectively cook up a brilliant batch of southern fried soundscapes that will surely nourish your soul. SPCM is far from the duo’s best work, but it’s a solid debut that started to make the rest of the world take Atlanta hip-hop serious.