Music: Stank and. Skank; Hip Hop Duo Outkast, Who've Taken America by Storm with Their Album Stankonia, Are about to Happen Here

The Mirror (London, England), February 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

Music: Stank and. Skank; Hip Hop Duo Outkast, Who've Taken America by Storm with Their Album Stankonia, Are about to Happen Here


Byline: GAVIN MARTIN

Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000, or Dre to his friends is one half of Atlanta-based duo Outkast and he's the most colourful and imaginative figure in modern hip hop. Whether he's wearing a peroxide wig and fur hotpants, a floral dress with kiss curls or an outsized Afro with a padded one-piece purple bodysuit, his appearance is as striking and individual as his music.

"I was never like that when I was growing up," he claims. "Offstage I still can be totally the opposite. In school I always wore clean preppie clothes. When I got older, finding myself in music, it gave me the chance to say and do things you can't in everyday life. I want to praise and celebrate that anyway I can, and clothes are one way of doing that."

Although only 25, Dre and his partner Antwan Big Boi Patton have been responsible for four platinum-selling albums that combine deep funk, warm soul and outrageous psychedelia. Their latest, Stankonia, is their biggest seller to date, helped by notoriously conservative American radio programmes having finally cottoned on to their charms. Britain is about to follow suit.

The slinky new Outkast single, Ms Jackson, is dedicated to Erykah Badu's mother. The turbanned soul princess gave birth to Dre's son four years ago and, although they split up recently, the song makes it clear that he will fulfil his parental responsibilities.

"I'd really prefer not to talk about our relationship," says Dre in a moment of uncharacteristic shyness. "Everything I want to say is in the song," he continues. "I did play it to Erykah's mum and she was cool about it."

Dre got a chance to let his creative side grow early in life. "I was happy to stay in a regular black project in the neighbourhood but my mum wanted to send me to a white high school to get a better education," he explains. "It was a school for the arts where we performed plays and learned to draw cartoons, it was fun."

At 15 he met Big Boi and, after they came to the attention of producer LA Reid, got their first break rapping on TLC's Every Little Thing. …

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