OutKast is an American hip hop duo based in East Point, Georgia, consisting of Atlanta native André “André 3000” Benjamin (formerly known as Dré) and Savannah, Georgia born Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. They were originally known as The OKB (The OutKast Brothers) but later changed the group’s name to OutKast. The group’s original musical style was a mixture of Dirty South and GFunk. Since then, however, funk, soul, pop, electronic music, rock, spoken word poetry, jazz, and blues elements have been added to the group’s musical palette.
The duo is one of the most successful hiphop groups of all time, having received six Grammy Awards. Over 25 million copies have been sold of OutKast’s eight releases: six studio albums, a greatest hits release, and the Grammy Awardwinning (for Best Album) Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a double album containing a solo album from each member. Along with their commercial success, OutKast has maintained an experimental approach in their music and are widely praised for their originality and artistic content.
OutKast signed to LaFace Records in 1992, becoming the label’s first hip hop act and making their first appearance on the remix of labelmate TLC’s “What About Your Friends”. In 1994, they released their first single, “Player’s Ball”. The song’s funky style, much of it accomplished with live instrumentation, was a hit with audiences. “Player’s Ball” hit numberone on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart.
Their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillac muzik, was issued on April 26, 1994. This initial effort is credited with laying the foundation for southern hip hop and is considered a classic by many hip hop aficionados.
In September 2003, OutKast released a double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It is essentially two solo albums, one by each member, packaged as a single release under the OutKast banner; the two members also appear on each others’ discs for a few songs apiece. Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx is largely a funk and Dirty South blended party record; André 3000’s The Love Below features only brief instances of hip hop, presenting instead elements found in funk, jazz, rock, electronic music, and R&B.
The album is also OutKast’s biggest commercial success yet, having debuted on the Billboard 200 albums chart at numberone and stayed there for several weeks. The album eventually sold over five million copies, and, as doublealbum sales count double for Recording Industry Association of America certification, the album was certified diamond for 10 million units shipped in December 2004. Its latest certification, in May 2006, reaches 11 million copies in shipping.