Antwan André Patton, better known as Big Boi, is born on February 1 in Savannah, Georgia. He is raised in Savannah alongside brothers Jason, James, and Marcus by parents Tony Kearse (father) and Rowena Patton (mother). He goes on to attend Herschel V. Jenkins High School before moving out of Savannah to Atlanta, Georgia to live with his Aunt Renne. There, he begins attending Tri-Cities High School for the Performing Arts, where he decides to focus in on his interest in hip hop music.
André 3000 is born on May 27 in Atlanta, Georgia as André Lauren Benjamin. An only child, he is raised in East Point and Buckhead, Georgia by his mother Sharon Benjamin-Hodo, a real estate agent. As an infant, his affinity for music and sound is already clear to his mother. One example used by his mother to describe this was her saying, in a VH1 interview, “The things that babies play with, he wouldn’t play with. You would just put him on the blanket, give him some newspaper and he’ll just take the paper and he’ll just crumble it… he loved the sound.” He goes on to attend Willis A. Sutton Middle School, Northside High School, and Tri-Cities High School for the Performing Arts, all of which are affluent schools with large white populations. André credits the people he meets at these schools with expanding his music taste beyond rap.
Benjamin meets Patton (Big Boi) at the Lenox Square mall when they are both sixteen years old. While the two are initially rap rivals and try to out-rhyme each other in competitions in the cafeteria, they develop a lasting friendship through their common passion for hip hop. After school, they often go to their friend Rico Wade’s basement studio “the Dungeon” to record, and there they develop a relationship with the Organized Noize production team. They form a musical duo and initially hope to go by “2 Shades Deep” or “The Misfits,” but ultimately settle on “OutKast” after finding in a dictionary that “outcast” is a synonym for “misfit.”
L.A. Reid signs OutKast and Organized Noize to his label LaFace Records. After receiving a $15,000 advance from LaFace, OutKast begins working on its debut album at the Dungeon. OutKast releases its debut single “Player’s Ball,” which climbs to the top of the Billboard rap singles chart and stays there for six weeks.
OutKast releases its debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik on April 26 to critical acclaim. The album draws from Southern soul and funk grooves, and its lyrics focus on urban life in Atlanta. It receives critical acclaim and performs well commercially, with its single “Player’s Ball” peaking at number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has since been regarded as an album seminal to Southern hip hop, having laid the foundation for Southern rap style and offered an alternative to the misogyny that had become associated with the region.
OutKast wins Best New Rap Group at the controversial 1995 Source Awards to intense commotion and booing from the audience. This occurs during the peak of the East Coast-West Coast feud, which serves to leave OutKast and other Southern rap acts in the dust. Consequently, during their acceptance speech, André 3000 famously proclaimed, “The South got something to say!”
Outkast releases its second studio album ATLiens on August 27. Big Boi and André are given more creative freedom from LaFace, resulting in a more spacey, futuristic, and reggae-inspired collection of songs. The album debuts at number two on the Billboard 200, selling nearly 350,000 copies in its first two weeks of release. The single “Elevators (Me & You)” peaks at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album receives critical acclaim, and has since been cited as one of the greatest rap albums of all time.
OutKast releases its third album Aquemini on September 29. André and Big Boi expand on the spacey sound of ATLiens, incorporating live instrumentation while delving into soul, funk, and electro extensively. Their lyrics touch on myriad issues from their authenticity to the perils of technology but generally center on the futility of the human condition. The album debuts at number two on the Billboard Hot 200, selling 227,000 copies in its first week of release. Aquemini receives the most acclaim of any OutKast album up to that point and is considered a stroke of brilliance. It goes on to be hailed as one of the best albums of the 1990s and one of the greatest rap albums of all time.
André and Big Boi begin recording their fourth album Stankonia in the spring, at Bobby Brown’s old Atlanta studio that they rename “Stankonia.” With more creative freedom than ever before, they experiment with faster tempos and the high energy of genres like rave music and psychedelia. André 3000 writes lyric ideas on the walls of his house, and they recruit local hip hop acts like Killer Mike. Rosa Parks files a lawsuit against OutKast in March, claiming that the group illegally used her name in the song “Rosa Parks.”
OutKast releases its fourth album Stankonia on October 31 to critical acclaim. The album reaches number two on the Billboard Hot 200 in its first week, and the single “Ms. Jackson” tops the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Stankonia has since been regarded as another hip hop classic.
OutKast releases the greatest hits album Big Boi and Dre Present... via Arista Records. The album’s lead single “The Whole World” peaks at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100.
At the 2002 Grammy Awards, Stankonia wins Best Rap Album for Stankonia and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “Ms. Jackson.”
OutKast releases Speakerboxxx/The Love Below on September 23 through LaFace Records. The project is issued as a double album, with Speakerboxxx being Big Boi’s album and The Love Below André 3000’s. Benjamin almost entirely abandons rap on this project, instead opting for crooning over funk, soul, and R&B instrumentals. The double album receives critical acclaim and performs well commercially, selling more than 510,000 copies in its first week and topping the charts. The singles “Hey Ya” and “The Way You Move” are two of the biggest of 2003, both topping the Billboard Hot 100.
At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below wins Album of the Year and Best Rap Album, and “Hey Ya” wins Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
The lawsuit Rosa Parks v. LaFace Records is settled on April 15. OutKast, its producers, and its record label pay Parks an undisclosed cash settlement and agree to work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development in creating educational programs about the life of Rosa Parks.
OutKast releases their sixth and final studio album Idlewild on August 22. The album is a companion album and something of a soundtrack to the film of the same name. Idlewild debuts at number two on the Billboard Hot 200, selling 196,000 copies in its first week, and it receives positive reviews from music critics.
Patton (Big Boi) announces his plan to release a new solo album. Unlike his solo effort on Speakerboxxx, he specifies his intent to release this album apart from the OutKast name. Benjamin (Andre 3000) begins working as a featured artist with other musicians over the next several years but announces no plan to release any solo albums.
After many delays, Patton releases his debut solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty on July 5. He recorded the album at the Stankonia Studios starting in 2007, but the album experienced extensive delay because of creative disputes between Patton and his label at the time, Jive Records. The conflict persisted until, after Jive on one occasion suggested to Patton that he release a cover of Lil’ Wayne’s famed single “Lollipop”, Patton felt too undervalued to continue working with Jive. Following his departure in 2009, Patton secured a deal with Def Jam in March 2010, and finally released the album four months later. The album takes its name from Patton’s personal moniker “Sir Lucious Left Foot,” and that of his father, “Chico Dusty”; today it is hailed with universal critical acclaim.
OutKast reunites to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a series of performances from April through September. They headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 11 and 18 and perform at over 40 music festivals across the globe, including the major UK festival Bestival. The duo completes their stretch of touring by returning to Atlanta for a series of homecoming shows that make for a festival of their own, announced as the #ATLast weekend festival. The concert series sells out within minutes of tickets going on sale.