Holy Grail

Words Dan Rys

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the October/November 2013 issue of XXL Magazine.

When OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below dropped 10 years ago on September 23, 2003, no one could have ever predicted the enormity of its success. OutKast had garnered much critical acclaim with the release of their first four LPs, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994), ATLiens (1996), Aquemini (1998) and Stankonia (2000), but their fifth effort put the Atlanta duo on a whole new level. Built and billed as a double-disc LP, the release included a solo disc helmed by each member: Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx and André 3000’s The Love Below.

The project led with two monster singles, Big’s “The Way You Move” and Dré’s “Hey Ya,” and in its first week, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart selling over 500,000 copies. The LP won 2004’s Grammy for Album Of The Year and has since become the highest-selling hip-hop album of all time with 11 million copies sold in the U.S., turning André 3000 and Big Boi into international superstars.

But just when the OutKast movement was at its commercial height, it all ended. One glorified and ultimately disappointing movie soundtrack, Idlewild, followed in 2006, and the duo— despite never outwardly or publicly acknowledging it—has been defunct ever since. Rarely have they been seen together, and rumors of them getting back in the studio have so far hit a series of roadblocks. Big Boi has since released two solo LPs while also dabbling in Hollywood. André took a hiatus from rap until 2007 and has released a smattering of material since his return, instead focusing more on acting. He will play Jimi Hendrix in the upcoming biopic All Is By My Side.

Now, a decade after they released their crowning mainstream achievement, and 15 years since Aquemini, Big Boi and Andre 3000 spoke to XXL about the album that took them from critical darlings to global icons. It’s OutKast reunited. —Dan Rys (@danrys)