Released: April 26, 1994
To gain an idea of just how long OutKast has been in the game, consider this: their first big break was when a certain Diddy asked them to open for a certain Notorious B.I.G. They were teens then, getting ready to attend the ‘Player’s Ball’, just starting out their careers and had just dropped their first studio album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. The title is mouthful and unfortunately it is also the most memorable thing about the album. While there can be no denying the huge amounts of talent that Andre 3000 and Big Boi possess or their influence on the hip-hop genre and the popularity it has enjoyed over the last two decades, this album suffers from several issues common to debut albums. Dre and Big Boi sound repetitive, bringing almost identical flows from track to track and while album’s smooth mix of funk and soul is easy on the ears, its sound certainly shows the album’s age. Despite these issues, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik is still a solid debut album with some great, all-time classics like ‘Players’ Ball’ and the album’s namesake ‘Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’.
It’s clear within about ten minutes of listening to this album that Dre 3k and Big Boi have the talent to make it big in the industry. There is that natural understanding of how words fit together and how they sound when arranged in a certain way that is simply impossible to teach or learn without that base, innate talent. Despite their age, both artists show a great deal of thought and sophistication, at least relatively, in creating well-constructed rhyme schemes and peppering their verses with clever punchlines and wordplay. However, there is insufficient diversity among the verses and often one track feels just like a slightly modified version of another. A part of the blame has to go to the album’s production but a larger part of it lies in the album’s creators not taking their chances and exploring different styles. Similarly, it’s clear that they both tried to put some thought into the content of their verses – there is positivity and encouragement on several songs, mixed with the usual descriptions of inner-city life but it all comes across as a little too vague and non-descript. Of the two, Andre 3000 is particularly guilty of this, evoking calls to achieve and ‘get up, get out and get something’ but never really building on those thoughts beyond just the general positive sentiment behind them. Finally, there are some moments – not many, but certainly noticeable – where the artists’ energy and intensity clashes rather glaringly with the mellow funk tunes of the track. It’s not enough to derail the album, indeed after a while, the artist and beat sync up again but it is noticeable especially when listening to the album in a single sitting.
As mentioned previously, the album’s production shows its age most clearly. A lot of the tracks seem inspired by Dr. Dre’s G-funk though the hard hitting gangsta drums have been toned down and mellowed with soul samples instead. The sound is far from unpleasant but at the same time is also rather dull. It falls on the album’s lyricists to inject life into the tracks because the production hardly carries its own weight though again, on the album’s best tracks both artist and music come together to form a cohesive whole. It should also be noted that the album handles its skits rather poorly. While skits are generally only valuable for a single listen, they should not be placed in a way that interrupts the album’s flow. The skits in the album’s first section present few issues but the skits in the middle and final third of the album feel superfluous and unnecessary.
On the whole, this isn’t an album that you would bump for every single track but rather an average, or slightly above average with some real, all-time classic gems. It’s a good start to a great career and the duo’s progress from her to ATLiens and later Aquemini indicates that they learned from this effort’s shortcomings and wasted opportunities.
|Ain’t No Thang||Organized Noise||3.5|
|Welcome to Atlanta||Organized Noise|
|Call Of Da Wild||Organized Noise||3.5|
|Player’s Ball||Organized Noise||5.0|
|Claimin’ True||Organized Noise||3.5|
|Club Donkey Ass||Organized Noise|
|Funky Ride||Organized Noise||4.0|
|Flim Flam||Organized Noise|
|Git Up, Get Out||Organized Noise||2.5|
|True Dat||Organized Noise|
|Crumblin’ Erb||Organized Noise||3.5|
|Hootie Hoo||Organized Noise||4.0|
|Player’s Ball (Reprise)||Organized Noise||3.0|