OutKast :: The Videos
Label: Arista Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
At a time when "mecca of underground hip-hop" would not have been
associated with Atlanta, GA along came a crew of hip-hop artists
whose Organized Noize shook up the rap world and then made an even
larger impact on pop culture as a whole. As this Family gathered
in the Dungeoun to plan their revolution, the upper echelons
of the soundquake rose to a prominence and popularity in pop
culture even they couldn't anticipate. There's no small irony
that the pioneering duo of Andre Benjamin and Big Boi called
themselves OutKast, a tag team who wanted to make trends instead
of following them, yet ended up being the standard for others to
emulate. Their perfect yin/yang hip-hop role of eclectic
expressionist and concretely grounded street thug gave them
credibility with a wide range of music aficianadoes, from the
hardest of G's to the backpackers club searching for the next
great set of beats and rhymes.
For those who've been with OutKast since the very beginning of
their long and strange journey, a compilation of their music videos
will no doubt seem overdue. The simply titled "OutKast: The Videos"
is as such no more or less than what you would expect. It's all
the videos that made OutKast pop icons, allowing them to express
their creativity while achieving the uniquely rare balance of not
compromising their artistic integrity. Indeed as you watch the
eleven music videos on this DVD, from "Player's Ball" to "Hey Ya,"
the one thing that becomes clear is that Andre Benjamin gets
increasingly MORE bizarre and eclectic as the group gets
bigger and more successful. In the opening tandem of videos
that includes "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" the duo are vocally
dinstinct but nearly identitical in their clothing styles, wearing
b-boy fashions and Atlanta Braves jerseys. It's on "Elevators (Me & You)"
that their unique personalities get drawn out, under the seemingly
innocent context of a video presented as a hip-hop comic book.
Andre wears a head wrap and an excessively loud purple splotched
t-shirt, while Big Boi looks highly pimped out in his black hat,
spotted suit and thick gold chain. Even when the video shifts
to a "spiritual" chapter of the comic book, his t-shirt and
doo rag still reflect his hardness, although the glasses give
him the "intellectual thug" style that best epitomizes his still
underrated verbal skills. By the time the trippy techno-paced
"Bombs Over Baghdad" hits there's no question they're on some
next shit. Purple hills, fractal geometry, green roads, and girls
with some tig ol' bitties dancing to the beat. A shirtless Andre
hops in a speeding ride, while Big Boi changes haircuts about four
times before dropping out the back of a semi trailer in a lowrider,
hitting switches all the way.
The video that OutKast are probably most famous for to this day
though is "Ms. Jackson," which deserves credit as one of the most
cinematic hip-hop masterpieces of all time. As Andre and Big Boi
attempt to repair a house and car that are falling apart (symbolic
of the relationships with women that fall apart in their lyrics)
a bevy of pets head nod to the beats and make cat and dog owners
everywhere try to get their critters to do the same thing. None
can top the owl that pops up behind Andre's shoulder though,
echoing his "Forever - forever ever? (FOREVER EVER?)" lyric.
The animals even seem to be singing along as the storm around
Big Boi and Andre worsens, but just when things seem their darkest
the sun shines in at the end bringing both hope that "Ms. Jackson"
will eventually forgive their transgressions from making
baby momma's daughter cry the buckets they used to catch falling
drops through the leaky roof of that video's house. Shit's deep.
My personal favorite though is "So Fresh, So Clean" - it shows
of Big Boi at his "cooler than Freddie Jackson sipping a milkshake
in a snowstorm" pimpish best, while the increasingly bizarre
Andre Benjamin seems to be at the hairshop getting a perm -
seriously. Later when they hit "The Spot" it looks more like a
church filled with the flyest hoodrats you ever seen, complete
with a Bruce Bruce sized preacher up in front of the congregation
singing the hook.
Never afraid to trip the light fantastic, Andre Benjamin would
push it a level beyond to a level even I had trouble relating to
on "The Whole World." While it's still one of my favorite OutKast
songs, the site of Andre in a platinum blonde wig and various
accessories from feather boas to technicolor capes is a little
much, and that's BEFORE he starts rapping. Once the first
verse unfurls, he puts on some make-up and a top hat straight out
of Baron Samadhi lore and struts around a three-ring circus.
It's left to Killer Mike on the second verse to TRY and
bring this runaway roller coaster to a stop, but he can't overcome
Andre's nutty fashion sense. And it's at this point that the
DVD starts to drag and become repetitive, as both long and short
versions of the combined "The Way You Move/Hey Ya!" video are
shown, as well as a single version of "Hey Ya!" by itself.
Question - was it really necessary to have "Hey Ya!" on here three
times? Furthermore, why a single version of "Hey Ya!" and not of
"The Way You Move" as well? Who made the executive version to
have one, but not the other, and how did they decide that anyway?
"The Way You Move" is pretty damn dope, while sadly "Hey Ya!"
is possibly the only song OutKast recorded in their entire long
career that I absolutely LOATHE. To this day I still
don't know why Andre Benjamin gave up rapping for singing,
because he's really damn good at the former and pretty much
mediocre at the latter. Leave the crooning to Sleepy Brown, por favor.
On the whole, "OutKast: The Videos" is worth the price of admission,
but if you're looking for videos from their more obscure songs, live
concert footage, duets with other Dungeon Family members or any kind
of bonus material whatsoever, you're not going to find it. "OutKast:
The Videos" means ONLY the videos, but since the videos are
for the most part the bomb it's still all good.
Content: 8 of 10
Layout: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: January 11, 2005