OutKast Releases Their Classic Double Album: Sept. 23 In Hip-Hop History
On this day, OutKast released their classic album, Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Also on this day, veteran hitmaker Jermaine Dupri and actors LisaRaye McCoy and Anthony Mackie were born. Check it out below.
1969: Isaac Hayes releases landmark soul album Hot Buttered Soul
Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul is one of the first soul recordings in the '70s to experiment with the idea of a concept album that featured a self-contained theme. For Hot Buttered Soul, Hayes chose the romantic pitfalls that come with love. The LP featured four tracks, the shortest being five minutes long and the longest at a whopping 18 minutes, which was unprecedented at that time for soul. With the assistance of legendary producer and Stax Records co-owner Al Bell, the late singer-songwriter helped redefine the soul by adding lush, symphonic strings and more complex arrangements to traditional instruments, a sound that would flourish over the next decade.
"When I was in high school and saw strings playing on stage, an orchestra or a symphony, all those bows moving at the same time...wow, I like that sound, man," Hayes told the A.V. Club in 2006. "So when I had a chance to do my thing, I did it. I just heard those strings...and I heard the horns. I kept the funky rhythms underneath, but I put the strings on top and made them speak. With authority."
Hayes shows his vulnerability (through his tough-like Black Moses persona) on the album closer, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," a soulful redo of Jimmy Webb's country tune. On the song, Hayes' captivating monologue about the power of love is profoundly honest and relatable. And then there's “Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic," a slang term Al Bell used to describe a person who abuses big words, that has been sampled multiple times in hip-hop, most notably by Public Enemy on their blistering track, "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos."
"I love music. Of course, I knew soul because I grew up in it. Writing it and everything, I love soul," said Hayes about the songs he created for Hot Buttered Soul. "But I love a tune that has some meat in it. Something I could hang my hat on. Because music is universal. Therefore I felt no boundaries."
1997: The X-Ecutioners express themselves on X-pressions
New York-based DJ crew the X-Ecutioners are famous for their amazing beat-juggling skills, body tricks and showmanship on the the turntables. Their groundbreaking album X-Pressions is a fantastic display of their turntable artistry and introduced the world to the art of turntablism. On the album, DMC World Champion DJs Mista Sinista, Rob Swift and the late Roc Raida delivered the basics of scratching and cutting over tailored hip-hop productions.
"X-pressions ... will always have a special place in my heart. [It] was the first turntable album made by a DJ crew. So I feel we broke down record industry barriers," Swift told HipHopCore in 2003. "[The album was] composed for those who understood the art form and were already a part of the turntable culture."
2002: Nas digs in the vault for his compilation The Lost Tapes
Following the release of his celebrated Stillmatic, Nas had the unfortunate problem of having his throwaway tracks that were initially cut from the album leaked onto the internet. According to Tone of the Trackmasters, over 40 authorized songs were circulating online.
To counter the leaks, Nas carefully curated The Lost Tapes. The rap veteran completed some of the unfinished songs and sequenced them for the album in way he wanted fans to hear them. Standout tracks include the nostalgic "Doo Rags," the funky "No Ideas Original" and then the reflective "Poppa Was a Playa," which was co-produced but uncredited by a then-unknown Kanye West.
"I was really just feeding and channeling the Temptations' 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone,' Nas told Rolling Stone about the song. "When I was a kid, I had a friend and his step dad's name was Papa. This friend is dead now, but he didn't really like Papa that much because Papa was a dope fiend. My pop was not a dope fiend - my pop was my pop - so I talked about him. This was also one of Kanye's first production. I didn't even know him at the time. He just came through via someone else."
2003: OutKast changed the rap game with their classic double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
On this day, OutKast released their fifth album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a masterpiece that would be the last studio project Big Boi and André 3000 would record together. One half is The Love Below, which features Three Stacks delving into the themes of love. Each song encompasses André's musical influences like Prince ("She Lives in My Lap"), Earth, Wind & Fire ("Prototype") and Shuggie Otis ("Pink & Blue"). Dré also delivers a thrilling drum-n-bass remake of the standard "My Favorite Things" and on "A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre (Incomplete)," he raps about his life story.
"In hip-hop, people don't talk about their vulnerable or sensitive side a lot because they're trying to keep it real or be tough - they think it makes them look weak," Dré told the Guardian in 2003. "That's what the Love Below means, that bubbling-under feeling that people don't like to talk about, that dudes try to cover up with machismo."
The other half is Speakerboxxx, Big Boi’s crunk-filled ride that feels more in tuned with OutKast's previous albums. Songs like the crunk-doo-wop of "The Way You Move," the gospel-infused "Church" and the club anthem "Last Call" are genre-bending and artistic leaps in southern rap.
The musical split on the album also sparked rumors that this would be Big Boi and André 3000's final album as a group, much to the sadness of their fans. Nevertheless, OutKast's double album went on to sell 10 million copies worldwide and garnered the Atlanta duo a well-deserved Album of the Year trophy at 2004 Grammy Awards.
"Winning Album of the Year was the equivalent of winning a Super Bowl ring," Big Boi told Billboard in 2014. "To be the best album of all the genres is the highest honor in music and is one of the highlights of my career.”
Born in North Carolina in 1926, John Coltrane was a prominent jazz saxophonist from 1955 until his death in July 1967. One of Coltrane’s greatest musical achievement is his 1964 landmark album A Love Supreme, a deeply spiritual recording inspired by his love for God. Another music icon Ray Charles Robinson was born in 1930 in Albany, Ga. The late pianist transcended jazz, blues, soul and even country music with his gifted abilities on the piano. In 1979, his version of "Georgia on My Mind" became the official state song of Georgia.
Born in Chicago in 1967, LisaRaye McCoy is a veteran actress of film and television. She is mostly remembered for her role as Diamond, the tough-as-nail stripper in Ice Cube’s 1998 flick The Players Club. Another actor, Anthony Mackie, was born in 1978 in New Orleans. A Juilliard alumni, Mackie has appeared in over 50 films, including playing the fictional superhero the Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Legendary hitmaker Jermaine Dupri (aka JD) was born in 1972 in Asheville, N.C., but was primarily raised in Atlanta. He is the CEO/founder of his historic music label So So Def and has produced chart-topping hits for Kris Kross, Xscape, Da Brat, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge and many others. Outside of So So Def, JD produced two diamond-selling albums (10 million sold) for Usher (Confessions) and Mariah Carey (The Emancipation of Mimi).
Veteran rapper Layzie Bone, whose real name is Steven Howse, was born in Cleveland in 1975. He is a member of the famed rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. As a solo artist, he’s released seven studio albums through his independent record label Harmony Howse Entertainment. Another rap veteran, KXNG Crooked (real name Dominick Wickliffe) was born in Long Beach, Calif., in 1978. Under his former rap alias Crooked I, he was one of the last signees to Death Row Records in the early '00s but never officially released an album on the label. Crooked is mostly known as a former member of the rap supergroup Slaughterhouse on Eminem's label Shady Records.