If you had a pulse in 2003, then you know the song “Hey Ya.” Much like Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” or Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova,” the song slipped into high school proms, graduations, television show finales, food courts, gyms, and stadiums. “It’s, like, a rap song but with, like, an acoustic guitar, man!” was one reigning thought behind its popularity (at the time, acoustic guitar-fueled rap was still a novelty, not yet mastered by Kanye West). It was also an earworm, the catchiest thing since Sam Cooke’s version of “Twist and Shout.”
The song mattered much the way OutKast mattered. The Atlanta duo arguably changed rap and arguably put ATL on the map as a music destination. (Please note the two uses of “arguably” in that sentence). Like Jay-Z and Brooklyn or Dr. Dre and Compton or UGK and Houston, OutKast was inseparable from Atlanta and vice-versa. Their identities were intertwined, and now, #ATLast, OutKast is returning home.
Big Boi and Andre 3000, who have spent the past few years in solo projects–both music and film–announced today that they, as OutKast, will curate and headline a homecoming show in Centennial Olympic Park on September 27. Tickets go on sale tomorrow. No other artists have been announced.
OutKast launched its career in 1992, four years before Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics. The duo’s music spanned genres, bringing rap further into the mainstream, erasing that tenuously thin line between hip-hop and pop music. OutKast invaded movie theaters with the 2006 hip-hop musical Idlewild. While the film suffered critically, it was proof that this duo wouldn’t rest on the established laurels of rap music. It was here to change things.
And it did. During its 14-year run–the duo broke up in 2006 and reunited for a tour this year–OutKast brought politics into rap music (and, as a result, found itself in a lawsuit with Rosa Parks), changed the sonic (and aesthetic) landscape of rap, and put the South on the map as a place that produced smart, challenging rap music.
Atlanta, your prodigal sons are coming home.