Concert Sutra Getting Wet With Outkast’s Big Boi
by terri sapp
photo credits: shots of Big Boi taken by Ben Rose, and brought to you courtesy of http://www.wickedgroup.com; cover shot courtesy of http://www.outkast.com/; and crowd shot courtesy of http://www.leahyetter.com/
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
Saturday night at Music Midtown (Atlanta, Georgia’s largest annual inner-city festival) is always a night full of wandering around between stages trying to catch a bit of all of your favorite shows. This year was the best, as I found myself running from stage to stage trying to catch George Clinton and the P-Funk, The Doors of the 21st Century, The Foo Fighters, and Big Boi of Outkast. Surprisingly enough, I made them all! However, due to the nature of the festival, it is nearly impossible to experience one entire show, in order to get a glimpse of several. This year, though, Big Boi was scheduled as the grand finale, and I knew I had to make it to his stage from beginning to end.
May 2, 2004 was one of the most voluminous crowds I have ever seen at Music Midtown, and I have seen some pretty big ones. With every stages’ headliner (listed above), I thought, “Damn, this is the biggest crowd I have ever seen here.” Then, at one point, I realized that around 11:00 p.m. (start of Big Boi), at least half of the crowd at every stage was headed to join the already large crowd at the Q100 stage to warm up to the Speakerboxxx (I know, because I was right there with them)! This was my 2004 DON’T MISS, and I am sure glad, because it was hands down the best show of the year!
Big Boi has always been in my top five favorite rappers list, along with his Outkast counterpart, Andre 3000. Before their newest amazing Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, I always thought of them as Outkast, only together, not apart. Of course, I was on pins and needles to see what a show would be like with one without the other. After seeing these guys in shows together, and being with Big Boi alone, I have to say that the only thing missing from Big Boi’s set being 100% PERFECT was Andre 3000. Worry not, though. Big Boi said it best in the lyrics of a song on his half of the newest (2-disc) Outkast album, “They say “Big Boi can you pull it off without your n***a Dre?” I say “People stop the madness ‘cause me and Dre be OK.” Outkast Cell Therapy, to cell division. We just split it down the middle so you can see both the visions. Been spittin’ it damn near ten years, why the fuck would we be quittin’?”
As I approached the stage, I really started running, because I heard the sounds of the intro to “Speakerboxxx!” In addition we heard new material from the fabulous 2003 release, “Bowtie”…one of my favorites. The beat on this song is so fly it personifies the lyrics and these guys in general. Oh my god, it’s Sleepy Brown! He is so smooth, and I fully understand why I have seen him around Outkast forever, and I have been known to refer to him as “So fresh, So clean guy,” because of the outrageous outfits I have seen him sport on this song since the release of Stankonia. Sleepy is one of the many Dungeon Family crew, and I have never seen Outkast when he wasn’t there pimpin’ it hardcore. Since these guys beginnings with Organized Noize, they have been just that, a family. Of all the crews that I have heard of that started together, all of the artists to come from working with the Organized Noize show an elevated
What set Big Boi’s Music Midtown performance apart from all of the Outkast I have seen was the live FULL BAND! I mean, I have never seen them perform without back-up singers and dancers and some instruments, but this group was STOCKED with singers (2 girls and 1 guy), 4 horns, 2 guitars, 1 bass, keyboards, drums (with feather boa), lots of guest MC’s, and Mr. DJ who has 2 or 3 turntables and all kinds of knobs and effects!
“Bust” is another Speakerboxxx song played for our enjoyment, featuring Killa Mike, who has also been associated with Outkast as far back as Stankonia. Big Boi is so good about featuring up and coming rappers, too. Slimm Calhoun has shown up at every Outkast show I have ever attended since he came out on Aquemini Records. Tonight is no different. When they started “Last Call,” a song that features Calhoun, Slimm took it and went off. This is a booming song that sends the bass through your gut. More from Speakerboxxx that I was happy to hear, “The Rooster,” and “Ghetto Musik,” which is one of the songs written by both Big Boi and Andre 3000 as a team! During “Ghetto Musik” I witnessed something I have never seen…crowd surfing at a rap concert!
This crowd was fortunate enough to get a large dose of Big Boi’s half of the new album. Fortunately, even though Big Boi was solo, we still got those old favorites as well. “Now tho yo hands in the ay-er, and wave em like you just don’t cay-er. And if you like fish and grits, and all the pimp shit, everybody let me hear ya say oh-yay-yer!” Some of those brought out from the archives included the title track and “Player’s Ball” from the 1994 Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, and “Elevators (Me & You)” from the 1996 ATLiens.
We also got to hear “Rosa Parks,” “Skew it on the Bar-B,” “Da Art of Storytellin (Part I),” “SpottieOttieDopalicious” (my favorite) all from the 1998 Aquemini. “Damn, James!” From the 2000 long awaited follow up Stankonia, we got some of “Ms. Jackson,” “So Fresh, So Clean” featuring Sleepy Brown, and, of course, “Bombs Over Baghdad.” Remember 2001, when Outkast teamed up for the Dungeon Family album, Even In Darkness (one the best collaborative albums ever)? Well, I almost lost it when I heard “Follow the Light.” How could we go through a show without 2001 hit added to the greatest hits cd, “The Whole World” featuring Killa Mike?
Big Boi also made his friends’ new songs part of his show. Good looking out! Sleepy Brown has an album coming out, and has a song on the radio, “I Can’t Wait” which fit right in with the energy and style bursting from this particular stage performance. The same goes to Killa Mike, who got the opportunity to introduce his big song to a crowd who may not have heard it. Killa Mike made the right decision featuring Big Boi on his “All Day I Dream About Sex.”
Another of the best parts of an Outkast show that was still in tact for this solo performance was the dance group called “TCP” (The Crowd Pleasers). These guys have been dancing with them for as far back as I go, and I was so glad they were there to please. It is kind of like when you are used to certain things, and just relieved to see that some things don’t change completely, just get a little different. Having many reps from the Dungeon Family is always a treat at an Outkast concert, and tonight was no different. Big Gipp (Goodie Mob) also showed in true form, ready to bust one in your face! By the end of the show, when the rain came down, there was literally a stage full of family and musicians.
By the end of this show, there was thunder, lightening, and lots of rain. Even though the weather was trying to shut us down, Big Boi and family kept it coming. Surprisingly, most of the crowd stuck around to catch the entire show that was obviously one NOT to be missed. As the rain came, Big Boi started the audience participation prompting a back and forth, “Fuck the rain!” chant. I guess Mother Nature didn’t like that so much, because as we yelled at the rain, it proceeded to come down harder and harder. Luckily, since the rain held off til the end, by the time it was pouring, the time had come for the big finish, “I Like the Way You Move.” Between the beats, Big Boi’s rhymes, and Sleepy Brown’s vocal stylings, this successful single had the soaking wet crowd going as wild as ever. The crowd was so hyped up after this show of shows, the long walk to the Marta public transportation station was a show all itself. Everyone was yelling and screaming the whole way…some “Fuck the Rain!,” some crazy “wooo hoooo!,” some just plain screaming as loud as physically possible. Onlookers and those few brave motorists who actually drove on the streets of Midtown Atlanta during such a massive event got a show of their own with the “after party parade” going on the whole way from Music Midtown to the surrounding Marta stations.
If you are looking to “get crunk,” there is no better place than a good quality live hip hop/rap show. I’d say there is a handful of rappers that can put on a show that rivals even the most praised pioneers of the genre…Big Boi is one of the true leaders, who never ceases to amaze and electrify. For more information on the latest from the multi-media dynamic duo, visit http://www.outkast.com/, or to visit Big Boi, go to http://bigboi.com/, and to visit Andre, hit up http://www.outkast.com/andre-3000. Love them together, AND alone!