Did Outkast Or D'Angelo Have The Greatest Concert of 2000? Corbin Reiff's New Book Has The Answer
The exclusive chapter from Corbin Reiff’s forthcoming Lighters in the Sky recounts why Outkast’s October 26, 2000, concert at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California was the greatest performance of the year.
The book, which drops October 10, 2017, highlights the greatest concerts from the ’60s up until 2016, including performances from Muddy Waters, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and others. Below is an exclusive excerpt from what the book has called the best concert of 2000 — Outkast at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, which happened to beat out D’Angelo‘s show at the same venue on March 1, 2000. Lighters in the Sky can be pre-ordered here.
OutKast Stank Up the Sunset
The House of Blues—Los Angeles, CA
October 26, 2000
With all due respect to Eric B. & Rakim, Clipse, EPMD, Mobb Deep, Run the Jewels, Gang Starr, and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, the greatest rap duo of all time is OutKast. Representing the “Dirty South,” André “André 3000” Benjamin (a.k.a. Possum Aloysuis Jenkins, a.k.a. Dookie Blossum Gain the 3rd) and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton Sr. (better known as Big Boi, a.k.a. Daddy Fat Sax, a.k.a. Lucious Leftfoot) hit the scene in 1994 with their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. The Atlanta duo spent the next dozen years making some of the most exciting, genre-bending, commercially successful music in rap.
OutKast sold millions and millions of records. They introduced new acts onto the scene like Goodie Mob, CeeLo Green, Killer Mike, and Janelle Monáe. They almost single-handedly broke the iron grip that the East Coast and the West Coast had on the rap game throughout the 1990s and put Atlanta on the map as a new Mecca of the genre. Besides Lauryn Hill, they are the only rap act ever to take home the Album of the Year prize at the Grammys, which they did in in 2004 for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the best-selling rap album of all time.
What set OutKast apart from everyone else was the interesting and engrossing way that André 3000 and Big Boi swapped stories and blended voices across a wide palette of sonic backdrops and irresistible hooks. In this corner, you had the spitfire, mile-a-minute delivery of Big, and in the opposing corner, the syrupy, precise and high-minded flows of Dré. They were so different yet so in sync with one another. As a listener, you couldn’t help but get drawn in as they rapped about Cadillacs, women, weed, Atlanta, the world at large and the universe beyond.
OutKast reached the peak of creative powers around 2000 with their fourth album, Stankonia. Released on Halloween, it’s a 24-track masterpiece that combines elements of funk, rock, jazz, gospel, soul and modern rave into one explosive package. “Hip-hop was at a point where everything was kind of laid back and smooth,” André told Spin. “I wanted something that sounded a little more urgent and fierce.”
That feeling of ferocity and urgency wasn’t confined to the recording studio. Onstage, Big and Three Stacks are two of the most exhilarating performers on the planet, willing to let it all hang out as they bob and weave around one another. To help promote Stankonia, OutKast hit a few smaller venues around the country and played some of the new material alongside older favorites for a few hundred diehards. That’s how they ended up at the House of Blues in Los Angeles just five days before their new record came out. There was hardly a hotter ticket anywhere in the world.
Y’all ready for OutKast? Make some goddamn noise!” DJ Swift, the man behind the turntables, is on the microphone getting the lucky fans assembled on the floor and in the balconies of the garish, Sunset Strip venue turned the hell up. It’s not a tough task. Everyone in the place is primed and ready to go off.
Swift gets the cue that the duo is ready and pushes play on a recording of André 3000’s voice. “Live, from the center of the earth,” he intones in an icy, digitally enhanced monotone. It’s the intro track from their upcoming album, which defines Stankonia as “a place from which all funky things come.”
“D.F. (Interlude)” hits, and OutKast makes their grand entrance. Strolling out into view, Big and André appear as opposites in style. The former is rocking a New York Mets baseball jersey with a thick gold chain swinging around his neck, while the latter, according to L.A. Times writer Marc Weingarten, is decked out in a “ghetto-fabulous, flamboyantly foppish getup [that] suggested a refugee from either Parliament-Funkadelic or H.R. Pufnstuf.”
“Yeah!” Big shouts. Behind him Swift drops the needle on one of the most incendiary songs they have at their disposal, “Gasoline Dreams.” A wah-wah guitar kicks in, providing the bedrock for André to go all the way in on his “Alright, alright, alright” intro and opening verse. Big is hyping him up on the side, intermittently punctuating his abrasive flow before taking over himself on “ATLiens” a few minutes later.
The crowd is going nuts. Up in the balconies the ladies are swaying to the beat, while down below fellas are fervently bouncing their hands in the air. Some know the words of both songs well enough that they succeed in keeping up with the frenetic pace of the two men onstage. Most simply hop in to shout out the choruses.
“Los Angeles, California, how y’all feeling this evening?” André asks. The audience screams back, letting him know they are feeling fine indeed. “We got a new album coming out on Tuesday called Stankonia,” Big declares. “We came here tonight to give you a little bit of the new album, a little bit of that Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, a little bit of that ATLiens and a little bit of that Aquemini. Right now, we gonna go off into some of that new shit. This one right here’s called ‘So Fresh, So Clean.’”
The beat drops and the pair take off once again. In addition to their DJ, OutKast has brought along two different guitar players and a trio of backup singers. As Dré and Big spit bars throughout the night, the sound of the interlocking guitars and the choral voices behind them lend a depth to the music that is sometimes lacking from live rap performances. They sound especially nice on “So Fresh, So Clean.”
Just as Big Boi promised, OutKast treats the Hollywood crowd to a showcase of some of the best material from their first three albums as well as the hotly anticipated one to come. “Elevators (Me & You)” from ATLiens bleeds into “Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 1” from Aquemini, which gives way to their biggest single to date, “Ms. Jackson.” A few months later, the song will net them a Grammy for “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group,” beating out their other Stankonia-nominated single “Rosa Parks.” That one gets busted out two songs later.
After almost an hour and a half of scorching hits, OutKast prepares to close the night out with a bang. “Right now we gon’ speed this motherfucker up,” André says before kicking into the last song of the night. “We about to do some real hip-hop on crack!”
The whispered count-in commences and Three Stacks starts rhyming at a mile a minute over the most frenzied OutKast song of them all, “B.O.B.,” a.k.a. “Bombs Over Baghdad.” He wasn’t kidding when he said they were going to speed things up. Watching both men coast through the verses, hardly skipping a word on the 153-beat–per-minute rager is an impressive sight to behold.
Behind them, Swift adds an extra element of mania via some absurd live record scratching. By the time the guitar solo hits, all bets are off. Every time the chorus comes around, the crowd boisterously joins in: “Don’t pull that thang out unless you plan to bang/Bombs over Baghdad!”
“And on that note right there, the album will be out on Tuesday,” Big reminds them as the song ends. “We’ll see y’all at the after-party,” Dré chimes in. OutKast hits them with one last track, “Call Before I Come,” and then take off for a night no doubt filled with the finest weed and women that Hollywood has to offer.
So Fresh, So Clean
Skew It on the Bar-B
Elevators (Me & You)
Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 1
Bombs Over Baghdad
Call Before I Come