East and West Coast-based rappers dominated hip-hop album sales and radio through much of the early ’90s, overshadowing the genre’s growth in Southern cities like Atlanta and Memphis. But works like Outkast‘s 1994 debut album, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," which turns 23 today (April 26), shifted industry attention farther South.
As noted by Mass Appeal, Outkast members Antwan "Big Boi" Patton and André "Andre 3000" Benjamin started making music as teenagers in "The Dungeon," the Atlanta studio owned and operated by members of production group Organized Noize. Before music mogul L.A. Reid signed them to his LaFace Records label, he made the young men prove themselves with a song on the 1993 compilation, "A LaFace Family Christmas." That track, the funky "Player’s Ball," set the tone for the debut album to come:
"Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" introduced the world to Big Boi and Dre’s rapid-fire, drawl-saturated flows, all underscored by live band instrumentals that harkened back to Parliament-Funkadelic beats. Allmusic says the album jumped onto the Billboard Top 20 chart and evenetually sold more than a million records, all while bringing Outkast and the South more popular acclaim.
Not everybody was thrilled. The group accepted the 1995 Souce Award for "New Artist of the Year–Group" while audience members jeered. Andre 3000 responded by saying, "It’s like this, the South got something to say."
Through several multi-platinum albums, an "Album of the Year" Grammy for 2003’s "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" and successive generations of Southern rappers making their mark on the charts, Outkast showed that the South did, indeed, have something to say.