OutKast
ATLiens


5.0
classic

Review

by JonM USER (3 Reviews)
July 18th, 2006 | 159 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


ATLiens was a surprise. Released in 1996, as Atlanta groups like TLC were blowing up and finally putting the city on the map, its title accurately described the public image of OutKast that the release of this album generated. On Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, their 1994 debut, 'Kast came off as an unusually talented duo of straight thug MCs staying faithful to the ATL sound. There were signs that Big Boi and Dre intended to push the envelope, but they were subtle enough to be accepted as mere creative touches to an excellent mainstream G-Funk record.

But OutKast's sophomore effort was a different beast. From its comic book cover to its spacey, atmospheric production, and especially considering its somewhat less gangsta subject matter, ATLiens might as well have come from outer space as far as much of OutKast's audience was concerned. More traditional listeners were turned off, some completely, by 'Kast's transformation. But the eclectic, deep, and soulful production and the undeniably tight tag-team rhymes were more than simply extraterrestrial. They seemed divinely inspired by the bodacious black goddess printed on the CD. ATLiens shook up OutKast's fan base, but those that remained when the shockwave was over realized they had a work of genius on their hands.

The album, like any early OutKast record, is a long, consistent, slow ride through your 'hood with the two philosopher-MCs trading proverbs and passing you the blunt. The record produced five singles, "Elevators (Me & You)," "Two Dope Boyz," "ATLiens," "Jazzy Belle," and "Wheelz Of Steel," the entire first third of the album, uninterrupted. This is not to say that the quality of the record is stacked toward the front. In fact, there really is no variation in quality on ATLiens. None whatsoever.

But from the perspective of more traditional gangsta rap aficionados, the rhymes were startlingly unusual. Big Boi's opening verse in "ATLiens" is a blistering, mind-bending work of lyrical savvy, but it's definitely no "Ain't No Thang:"
Well it's the M-I-crooked letter, ain't no one better / And when I'm on the microphone you best to wear your sweater / 'Cause I'm cooler than a polar bear's toenails / Oh hell, there he go again talkin' that sh*t / Bend corners like I was a curve, I struck a nerve / And now you 'bout to see this Southern playa serve
But for those who appreciate a little artistic license in subject matter, the rapping is formidable from both MCs. The rhymes are never forced, the rhythms sync effortlessly with the crisp production, never lagging behind the beat, and Andre and Big Boi don't merely trade verses, they share them. They operate in total synergy, a perfect team, and their abilities never flag, from the beginning of the record to the end.

"Millennium," the twelfth (and some would say best) track, could have easily been a hit in an ideal world, but perhaps Andre's singing gangsta-ghost chorus would have been too much for radio. In any case, it's certainly not too much for the record; any listener is sent soaring into orbit as this album builds to its steady climax in this track. From here, the album's denouement makes explicit the terms of OutKast's transformation, as Big Rube's spoken proclamations of "13th Floor/Growing Old" outline a worldly new outlook, leading into Dre's State of the Hip Hop Union address:
Take this music dead serious while others entertain / I see they makin' they paper so I guess I can't complain, or can I? / I feel they disrespectin' the whole thang / Them hooks like sellin' dope to black folks / And I choke when they food they serve ain't tastin' right...

...I grew up on booty shake, we did not know no better thang / So go 'head and diss it, while real hop-hippers listen / Started by Afrika Bambaataa, so you and your potnah / Gather your thoughts.
In no uncertain terms, OutKast set themselves apart from the nihilism of late-'90s mainstream hip hop with ATLiens. As gangsta rap continued it's spiraling decline into the pop culture void, 'Kast salvaged the Southern scene and managed to establish Atlanta as one of those precious outposts around the country where hip hop would survive. ATLiens may have alienated some conservative fans, but it also allowed OutKast the creative freedom to become the hip hop duolith that could outsell even the bleakest of the manufactured, colonized competition.


user ratings (610)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Kyle
July 18th 2006


667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review Jon, you really sold this one to me.

I've never actually checked out this record, so I'll prioritise it highly in my list of music to buy.

south_of_heaven 11
July 18th 2006


5436 Comments


OutKast are probably the only ones of their genre that I actually can listen to and really, really enjoy.
Good review man.

Kaden
July 18th 2006


222 Comments


This is on my to-buy list.

But then again, most Outkast albums are on my to-buy list.

metallicaman8
July 18th 2006


4677 Comments


HEEEYYYY-AAAAAA HEY-HEYYYYY-AAAAA

...I'm not sure if that song is on this album (to lazy to read tracklist) but I love it.

Rams
July 18th 2006


31 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Down right horrible.

JonM
July 18th 2006


18 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Whatever you say, man...

Little Man being Erased
July 18th 2006


87 Comments


I've been listening to a bit of the 'Kast lately, so I should check this album out.

Good review too, Jon.

Robert Crumb
Emeritus
July 19th 2006


165 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review, Jon. I don't know how anyone who likes rap could call ATLiens down right horrible. So much goodness here.

Zesty Mordant
July 20th 2006


1196 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album's not bad, not my favorite by them but still pretty tight especially the first half.

TheMisterBungle
November 29th 2006


861 Comments


Is this really a 5?? I might wanna check this out.

DELienz
July 9th 2007


50 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Just came across this review.. if anyone is considering buying this CD... do it now!!! This is one of top 10 hip hop album ever unlike anything u ever heard.

Zebra
Moderator
November 8th 2007


2647 Comments


I was never really that interested in Outkast until I heard this album a couple of days ago. I just love the production and beats, everything about ATLiensis so slick and cool.

Big Baby Jesus
April 21st 2008


549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A few songs on this actually give me chills.... Still. Only a handful of rappers can say that.

RandMcNally
December 8th 2008


158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

99% of Hip Hop is woeful, Outkast are a different story. Classic album, love this from start to finish.

foreverendeared
December 8th 2008


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

two dope boyz brings back the memories

cirq
May 21st 2009


9265 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i smash

PatchworkNeurology
August 24th 2009


352 Comments


Big Rube FTW

oathfbass
October 4th 2009


388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

going to check this out soon

DhA
October 20th 2009


421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love the bass on this album

fromtheinside
October 20th 2009


18717 Comments


stankonia is better imo, but the bass is one reason i love this album that and elevators.

Digging: Devin Townsend Project - Z2



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy