I can’t remember when I first heard of Outkast. The first songs of theirs that I was aware of were probably Rosa Parks and Bombs Over Baghdad, but the first ones I remember hearing on the radio were Ms. Jackson and So Fresh, So Clean. For a few years, they were one of the biggest musical acts in the whole world, regardless of their genre, and Outkast presents a few interesting questions as far as induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is concerned. How serious is the RRHOF about inducting hip hop acts? Is an act that is not part of the whole east coast vs. west coast scene going to be inducted? Did Outkast have a long and consistent enough career to warrant induction? These are all serious and worthwhile questions to ask. It is amazing to me as I write this that Outkast is even eligible for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at all. I see them as artists of my teenage and young adult years when they were creating some amazing and long-lasting tracks, but I suppose as I am getting older the acts of my teenage and young adulthood are going to be involved in this discussion and not merely those acts that I am familiar with from a historical perspective.
The Influence Of Outkast
Outkast’s influence as a group is somewhat complex. On the one hand, there is the direct impact of their music in providing a template for rappers from Atlanta who were not part of the South Beach party scene or the epicenters of Southern California and New York City that pioneered popular rap music. Outkast were definitely proud of being from Atlanta, and they cultivated a group of rap artists that came along after them, many of which, like Killer Mike, Sleepy Brown, they collaborated with. The group definitely did a good job at furthering the careers and opening the door for others and not only trying to be popular themselves. In addition to this sort of mentoring, the group’s influence is also important in terms of films (most notably their swan song “Idewild”) and their role in memes. Lines of theirs like “Everybody get to the back of the bus” from “Rosa Parks” and “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson. I am for real,” from the #1 hit “Ms. Jackson” became memes even before memes were as popular as they are now, and so the group was definitely ahead of their time in terms of getting their lyrics stuck in the popular consciousness. And although it has been some years since the group recorded together, their music is still relevant and has endured the test of time.
Why Outkast Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Outkast was one of the first groups to break out of the rigid divide between East and West that people had in mind when it came to rap music by representing the dirty south. Their success made it possible for many others from this region to come to popularity, many of whom have acknowledged their debt to Outkast for paving the way and providing the studio and songwriting and producing and marketing infrastructure to do so. As an album act, Outkast has been phenomenal, with all six of their studio albums as well as their lone compilation (to date) going at least platinum, two of their albums going double platinum, one 4 x platinum, and another 11 x platinum, making it one of the most successful albums of any genre of all time. The group had 3 #1 hits on the pop charts with “Ms. Jackson,” “I Like The Way You Move,” and “Hey Ya!” along with top ten hit “Roses” and top 40 hits “Player’s Ball,” “Elevators (Me & You),” “ATLiens,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” and “The Whole World.” Beyond their stellar success both in terms of singles and albums, though, Outkast demonstrated considerable ambition, whether it was in their exploration of aliens in Atliens, or their double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, or in their historical fiction of Idewild, that few of their peers could match. Regardless of their genre, that is worthy of recognition.
Why Outkast Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
They just became eligible, so it may take some time. They were not inducted in their first year of eligibility and many notable rap acts have faced a tough time with getting inducted, as there are so many worthy acts that only one rap act is likely to be inducted at a time, something that will make it tough to induct all of the worthy rap acts as time goes on and the massive influence of rap on the musical culture of the past and contemporary music scene becomes all the more necessary and important to acknowledge, whatever one thinks about it.
Verdict: Put them in. They are certainly worthy of a spot.