OutKast: BET Offical Presents OutKast
Label: BET Official/Viacom
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Five years ago when "OutKast: The Videos"
was reviewed, my write up walked a fine line between satisfaction someone had finally
compiled their cinematic visuals and disappointment they did such a damn poor job of
it. After a long struggle the former largely won out over the latter, but not without me
asking why they hadn't titled the release "OutKast: ONLY the Videos." There
were no extra features to speak of whatsoever, and even if you're a big fan of the song
"Hey Ya!" there was no need to include it three different times and ways. The hardcore
OutKast fans this compilation was meant for wanted and certainly deserved much more.
"BET Official Presents OutKast" intentionally or otherwise seems meant as an answer
to the failures of the previous edition. The number of music videos here has been cut down
to four, but none appear more than once and one new video has been added that wasn't on
the previous comp - "Morris Brown." That's not too surprising given this one seems to
have come out much closer to the "Idlewild"
album slash movie the duo was working on. In fact the main feature of this video is Andre
and Big Boi sitting down in the BET studios to be filmed for an interview where they
talk about how it's a soundtrack... but not really. The relationship between the two is
painted as organic and fluid, where each inspired the other but neither one had to be
directly based off their counterpart. Andre: "We kept in mind that it is the 1930's but at the
same time we didn't let it like, hold us to it."
Director Bryan Barber takes us behind the scenes for the filming of the "Morris Brown"
video, which has to set a record for the most green screens I've seen in one place at one
time. Big Boi: "It's like a day in the life of this tripped out world. We tryin' to get to this
amusement park on acid." Of course OutKast videos have in general known for being as
cutting edge visually as their songs were musically, so it's no surprise you'd have a video
where the walls are singing and a marching band growing out of the trunk like liquid metal.
On the other hand some of the behind the scenes material offered here cuts deeper in
retrospect when singer Scar talks about how "Morris Brown" is the launching point for his
career and a forthcoming album, and four years later this is the only time I've ever seen or
heard from him.
This point is further hammered home when Janelle MonŠe rides with them in the car during
the video given she's not one of the artists credited with a vocal performance - but why is that?
Well her career was in musical limbo while she was hanging out with the ATLiens in GA,
but once she signed with Bad Boy her career blew up to the point she was touring with
No Doubt and being featured on American Idol. For all the success OutKast had
artistically, they had unprecedented failure as entrepreneurs when it came to running record
labels and promoting artists. Neither Aquemini or Purple Ribbon Records can be hailed for
their stunning level of output and success, and the latter in particular may be better known
for the people who have left (Bubba Sparxxx, Killer Mike) than the people who theoretically
are still signed to the imprint. In fact even Big Boi had to leave OutKast's traditional home
of LaFace/Arista and sign with Def Jam to finally release the three years overdue solo album
"Sir Luscious Left Foot."
We hear from Big Boi a bit during the filming, from the director and the co-stars a whole lot more,
and Andre not at all. It's to the point I would have called this DVD "Behind the Scenes: The
Making of Idlewild & OutKast Videos," which would have been a more accurate description,
but wouldn't have sold as well as putting the OutKast name on it. On the other hand the 60
minutes of "BET Official" ends up being more fun than "OutKast: The Videos" because it's
more than just music videos - we actually get to hear from Andre and Big Boi in their own
words and see how videos like "The Way You Move" and "Hey Ya" are put together as opposed
to just watching them and that's it. In this case the videos are the "bonus" as opposed to the
"star" of the show. Then again it's debatable who are the actual stars are here: OutKast, Bryan
Barber, the FOINE women in the video shoots, or the friends of Andre and Big Boi all
looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
Tacked on after all of the "All Access" video ish is a 106 & Park interview from when
"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" was released three
years before, intercut with Andre and Big Boi sitting in the BET Official studio talking about
their artistic evolution, followed by a live performance of "Elevators" on the 10th Anniversary
of (the now defunct) Rap City. Watching the footage here is as fascinating yet troublesome given
OutKast vanished from the mainstream after the Idlewild movie and album. The DVD wraps
with a "Blueprint" interview by Big Tigger, more BET Official discussion and the classic
"Elevators" music video. Andre: "Stay tuned. This is only our first Official." Big Boi: "Don't
believe everything you read." Andre: "Caon't believe everything on the internet, f'real."
There's clearly no animosity between Andre and Big Boi, on "BET Official Presents OutKast,"
sitting together on a couch talking about how they made Southern rap history. At the same time
Andre talks about how they've reached a point where they've got their own businesses, own families,
and own houses and "our only competition is ourselves." That's telling. If you want to know why
there hasn't been another OutKast album, movie or DVD in the four years since "Idlewild" let
alone what Andre described as their FIRST "Official," there you go. It was also the last.
If "BET Official" had been skillfully combined with "The Videos" and a few more of the videos
people really wanted had been included (like "Rosa Parks") that one DVD would have been
brilliant, but in the end this one is certainly the more enjoyable and intriguing of the two. Don't
be fooled by the "features" DVD menu though, as that's just the chapters of the main presentation.
If you're waiting for OutKast to come back and create the old magic, don't hold your breath, but
if you want to get a mix of behind the scenes footage, real talk and music videos this is definitely
the better OutKast DVD of the two.
Content: 8.5 of 10
Filming: 7.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: February 16, 2010