Photo: Frank Micelotta / Getty Images
  /  06.11.2018

Outkast is not only the greatest hip hop group of all-time, but also one of its most fascinating. The Southern duo blazed its path by celebrating creativity and, above all, uniqueness. With André 3000’s eccentric introspection and Big Boi’s refreshing grit, these two lyrical samurais were the perfect complement to one another. Three Stack’s drive to innovate tirelessly and wander new planets was grounded by Big Boi’s ability to bring the rest of hip hop along for the ride. Outkast pushed, bent, and pulled boundaries across nearly every aspect of black culture. Let’s take a look at the ATLiens’ five most iconic visuals.

“International Players Anthem (I Choose You)” | UGK feat. Outkast

Many fans can rap André’s iconic opening verse word-for-word, but Pimp C, Bun B, and Big Boi also cement this cut as a classic. The self-identified “hopeless romantic” happily walks down the aisle, remembering his confidantes’ warnings and the women he’s leaving behind. A choir soulfully sings, “I choose you” as André’s homies look on, their faces wearing both disgust and pride. The remainder of the video, consistent with the thunderous beat drop, is largely an exercise on Southern flexing. Wearing mink coats and stunner shades, each rapper draws on the benefits of being a player while surrounded with beautiful women. Before his verse starts, Three Stacks warns his homies about how fleeting this lifestyle can be: “One day, y’all are gonna be 80, 70, 60, 55 years old…and y’all will be the only old [men] in the club.” Play your part, play your part.

“Prototype” | André 3000

Undoubtedly one of the standouts on André’s The Love Below, this track entrances you into the optimism that comes with a new romance. Its dreamy visuals are the same. The video opens with André and a few other human-like aliens stepping off of a spaceship, intrigued by the sights and sounds of planet Earth. The racial diversity of each of the aliens, who all seem to be part of the same family, reads as subtle social commentary. Though race is one of our defining features, there are other forms of community that tie us together: passions, experiences, and more. As innocent as the infatuation Andre describes, the video even shows the ATLien impregnating his love interest by simply sharing an embrace.

“Ms. Jackson” | Outkast

Though the song itself is well-known, the accompanying visuals don’t receive enough praise. This video gives us a snapshot of extreme poverty in the rural South, complete with leaky ceilings on rainy nights. Throughout, we see various pets hypnotically bopping their heads to the music—perhaps inspired by the earthshaking videos Missy Elliot was releasing at the time. The trippiest part: it almost looks natural on first glance.

“Roses” | Outkast

This scene takes us to a high school recital where Big Boi and André, backed by their respective crews, are competing for Caroline’s heart. Part of what made this duo so compelling was how each of them injected their own personality into their songs together. This video brings those characters out through high school archetypes we can all remember. Andre, “the artsy kid,” attempts to win Caroline over with his performance onstage while Big Boi, “the cool kid,” shoots his shot by raining on the former’s parade. As a brawl breaks out between the crews, Katt Williams—cool and calm as usual—swoops in and walks off with their muse. While we can read the lyrics as a critique of “stuck-up” women, the visual reminds us that prematurely putting women on a pedestal or viewing them as a conquest is its own repellant.

“Rosa Parks” | Outkast

The phone call that begins this video hints at the rift that would eventually draw this duo apart. Big Boi pushes for the video to sport the “pimpin,” gutter imagery that earned the duo its earliest fans; André argues that the video needs to be futuristic and unpredictable. Much like their legendary music together, both parties agree to do both. The result: Big Boi sports a squeaky-clean Mets jumpsuit and Andre makes dozens of fashion statements (tiger-striped and piñata pants, shirtless with football pads, and more). Tugging away at conformity and gender stereotypes? Just a regular day in the office for these two.

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