OutKast – ATLiens

 1996 Arista Records

Twenty-four years ago, OutKast changed the game with the conceptually-driven classic album "ATLiens."

The fact that OutKast is consistently praised as one of the greatest hip-hop grounds the culture has ever seen speaks volumes to their legacy. Yet it does not paint the full picture. Of course, Big Boi and Andre 3000 remain esteemed lyricists, having played a pivotal role in proving to doubters that "the south had something to say." Yet one thing they still don't get enough credit for, at least in the greater rap discussion, is the groundwork they laid on a conceptual level.

Though the "concept album" has been around for a while, with albums like The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pink Floyd's The Wall transporting listeners into fictitious realms, it was seldom seen in hip-hop music. On ATLiens, however, OutKast committed headlong into the extraterrestrial realm, creating a sci-fi tinted world on a musical, artistic, and lyrical level. While the album is easily best digested in one immersive sitting, those seeking a fix of that space juice would do well to revisit the titular track, which still shines bright after twenty-four long years. A timeless space odyssey indeed, soaring confidently into the future, scored by the soft sound of piano in the dark. 

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