Today In Hip-Hop: OutKast Releases ‘ATLiens’

On this day, August 27, in hip-hop history…


1996: A little over two years removed from the introduction of their highly successful debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzikthe eccentric, southern rooted rap duo from East Point, Atlanta, unveiled their definitive sophomore effort, ATLiens, invading the atmosphere of hip-hop with an otherworldly, and historically unexplored style, that would forever modify the infrastructure of urban music and the progressive culture that accompanied it.

While largely embracing the classic origins of southern, bass-driven, g-funk influence amongst their inaugural release in 1994, it was clear from the onset ofATLiens that the ingenious duo had conceived a significantly more innovative approach while constructing their subsequent project.  ATLiens, which was fittingly titled, promptly established its celestial, avant-garde theme, with OutKast declaring their arrival from extraterrestrial dimensions, welcoming the listener to their fifty-eight minute audible universe in the form of a supernatural, “Greetings, earthlings“, immediately after the album’s intro concludes. The first-third of ATLiens, which includes a stretch of tracks (Two Dope Boyz, ATLiens, Wheelz Of Steel, Jazzy Belle, Elevators) that rivals any five-song assemblage throughout the archives of hip-hop, succeeds in properly setting the atmosphere for the remaining duration of the extraordinarily experimental album.

Not lost in the duo’s sonic transformation though, which was mainly accredited to the Atlanta-based production collective, Organized Noize, is both Andre and Big Boi’s refined lyrical maturation. Certainly emerging  as the primary triumph upon completion of the album, the topical focus within ATLiens saw the two emcees chronicle an array of endearing and purposeful subject matter, ranging from the negative effects stemming from a woman’s promiscuous behavior (“Jazzy Belle”), the pressures of faith and succumbing to sin (“Millennium”), to the obstacles in overcoming poverty and attaining your dreams (“E.T.”), and ultimately condemning the lack of substance in the music industry, while encouraging one to stay true to thyself (“Mainstream”). Although the content throughout ATLiens had a heightened sense of sophistication, Andre and Big Boi constantly remained loyal to their braggadocio roots, regularly flexing their lyrical muscle in the midst of their elaborate messages, simply for the sake of self-admiration.

The accolades ATLiens achieved were plentiful, as it debuted, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 200, saw three singles reach the Billboard Hot 100, and eventually in 2003, seven years post-release, was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Generally in music, it’s rare for an artist to achieve both universal introduction to the masses, while instituting their respective place in history within the same release, but that’s exactly what made ATLiens so profoundly significant. In what is undoubtedly the quintessential album of OutKast’s remarkable discography, ATLiens was not only the unrestricted presentation of Big Boi and Andre to the unfamiliar hip-hop enthusiast, but it simultaneously established them as the most imposing rap duo to ever collectively grace a microphone.—Michael Blair

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  • BrianRaider

    Wow BJ Fuckin Great Job! You Summed It All Up! OK So… I Was Only A Freshman In High School When This Dropped. A Childhood Friend Let Me Borrow This 3 Years Later My Junior Year! I Fell In Love With This CD! I Love The Artwork Its A Continuation Of The 1st Disc! When You 1st Listen To The LP The Intro Is Bone Chilling! “You Can’t Be Sure… Some Go Low To Get High… You May Hurt Till You Cry! You May Die… Keep On Trying!” Damn. Before Dre & Big Say Anything The Tone Is Set & You Know Your In For A Funky Ride! This Is What Dre & Big Are Capable Of… Making Timeless Music When They Sit Down… Take Their Time & Create Together! They Continued This Run For Their Next Albums And Expanded Even Further With Stankonia! Last Year You Guys Had A Short Lived Best 5 Album Run Article. Outkast Should Have Been High Ranking Along Wit Weezy But Hey… The Music Dre & Big Put Together Is Special! Very! In Greatly Enjoyed Big Boi’s LLFTSOCD And Dre Has Been Killing His Features As Of Late So I Know They Still Got It! Outkast We Need Another Classic From Y’all. Im Sure I’m Not Alone With That Notion! The Description Of This Album Is Stellar, And Informative As I Didn’t Know That A Trip To Jamaica Triggered The Motivation For this Album. Im Gonna Describe This Album In 2 Words… Beyond Classic. Their Was An Older 2000 XXL Cover That Read The Inscription. Outkast G.G.O.A.T.? Yes They Are! Yes They Are!