OutKast is one of many pioneers that made the South the hip-hop powerhouse it is today, but that didn’t come without fighting for it.
Their name origin story is nothing too special. André 3000 and Big Boi wanted to call themselves “2 Shades Deep,” but learned it was taken. They then chose “The Misfits,” but that was taken too. As the story goes, they found “outcast” as a synonym for “misfit” in a dictionary and kept the “k” from the phonetic spelling (“ˈaʊtkast”). The duo settled for their third choice.
Flash back to the infamous 1995 Source Awards. At this point in hip-hop history, the East-Coast-West-Coast rivalry was in full swing, and the two sides were on the verge of exploding. So when OutKast — a Southern group — was awarded Best New Rap Group, the crowd roared with boos. “OutKast” was a third choice name for the duo, and OutKast was a third choice candidate for Best New Rap Group to the audience.
In that moment, André 3000 and Big Boi literally were outcasts. The two rappers from Atlanta were left out of the debate when all the audience wanted to see was a winner from N.Y. or Calif. to fuel the beef. Then André took the mic, and said what might be hip hop’s most famous words: “The South got somethin’ to say.”
In the words of fellow Atlanta superstar Ludacris: “Pressure can either bust pipes or create a diamond, and what André said when he got on that microphone created a diamond.”
OutKast’s classic sophomore album released in 1996 would be fittingly titled ATLiens. At the time, they were outcasts, rap-game aliens from Atlanta. When the album went double platinum, OutKast became a household name. By the time Speakerboxxx/The Love Below went diamond, Andre 3000 and BigBoi were outcasts no longer. The South had spoken.