If ever there was any doubt about Atlanta's reverence for OutKast, the home team put it to rest two weeks ago. Damn ATLiens nearly broke the Internet in the process. Probably safe to assume a record or two was also shattered on the way to OutKast selling out three homecoming shows — the first two reportedly sold out in less than an hour each — scheduled for Sept. 26-28 at Centennial Olympic Park.
For local diehards, like blogger Lib Aubuchon, who've been waiting more than a decade to see Big and Dre perform together here, #ATLast isn't just a string of reunion concerts. It's a culmination of the Atlanta identity OutKast birthed.
So the middle-aged mother of two, who usually writes about her obsession with “all things brainless in the media” on her blog Really Real Atlanta Housewife, decided to petition the Mayor Kasim Reed to "Make September 27 Official ATLiens Day."
"Outkast is more than a legendary rap duo. They are OUR legendary rap duo," she writes in the Change.org petition that, incidentally, goes on to quote a line from the intro I penned for Creative Loafing’s "Straight Outta Stankonia" cover story back in April.
Though she wasn't aware of the "Dear OutKast" open letter I wrote in January, begging on behalf of all ATLiens for a real Atlanta show and an OutKast Day proclamation from the mayor, we were obviously on the same page. So I hit Aubuchon up via social media to find out how her one-woman campaign has been going after two weeks and to see what she thought of Mayor Reed’s recent Facebook response to her request.
How’d you get up the nerve to petition Mayor Kasim Reed?
Aubuchon: Simple lack of impulse control.
Like every other Outkast fan, I've obsessively listened to Andre and Big Boi's various projects and features, searching for clues indicating they would play together again. When they announced their festival dates this summer, I prayed — literally — that they would make a hometown appearance. The day they announced the (first) Centennial Park show, I'm pretty sure I teared up. When Andre talked about how coming from Atlanta gave them the freedom to be what they wanted to be because no one was paying attention, and now that everyone is, they want to say thank you? I felt like I wanted to do something to return the love, to show them that they are as much a part of the fabric of Atlanta as Peachtree Street, or Dr. King, or the Braves. They introduced the world to College Park. East Point. Headland and Delowe. Tri-Cities. Come on. They planted the capitol flag in red clay.
Fun fact: A couple nights before the announcement, I was in a late night (alcohol-fueled) conversation in which I argued that if the city of Atlanta had a voice, it would sound exactly like Andre Benjamin.
I was born and raised in Orlando, Fla., but have lived here since 1991. And though I can't say I've been a [hip-hop] fan since Kool Herc, I can confidently say I've been a rap nerd since the Sugar Hill Gang.
More importantly, what's your favorite OutKast album?
This is hard.
I have to choose ATLiens. Anyone can have a strong debut, and then show up with a sucky sophomore effort. But ATLiens was the sound of OutKast not only proudly exclaiming that the South had something to say, but also breaking out as individuals who together formed the perfect duo. ATLiens was when we first saw Antwan as the pit bull-raising, stripper pole-having master of the "red cup all on the lawn shit" and Andre as the sober vegan weirdo. Also? "Cooler than a polar bear's toenails." What will ever be better than that?
Why ATLiens Day instead of OutKast Day?
You know what, Rodney? I wanted to connect Outkast to the hometown, to show the world how much we - the city - love them. But I really don't care what it's called. Outkast Day? I'll take it.
You’ve collected little more than 300 signatures after two weeks. It almost feels like you're a diehard OutKast fan on this lone crusade, even with the help of social media. Has it been tough staying committed?
When I first had the idea - which I swear I didn't rip off from you - it seemed like such an obvious idea. As I wrote it, I just knew there would be 1,000 signatures that same day. I sat back, hands clasped behind my head just waiting for them to roll in. Crickets.
I think there is at least one clear reason for this: I'm considerably older than the average fan and I bet about half (or more?) of my friends couldn't name an OutKast song. Other than "Hey Ya". And also, maybe I'm too lazy.
When Mayor Kasim Reed held his Facebook Q&A last weekend, you asked him, “What are we doing to celebrate OutKast and their return to the city?” He responded, “I want them to move their concert to the Georgia Dome. I will declare Outkast Day in the City of Atlanta if they do that.” So what did you think of his response? Sounds to me like the mayor was giving OutKast an ultimatum.
My reaction to this is, it's a little weird? I don't know what his reasoning is. The logistics of transferring tickets for three sold-out shows to one at an arena - after I'm pretty sure Andre said no to arenas - sounds nightmarish. And it does sound/look like an ultimatum. Honestly, I wish my follow-up to his response had been more along the lines of, "Dude, why?" [Aubuchon’s original response to Reed included a hallelujah emoji, followed by the words: “Pretty sure Andre said no to arenas but maybe if YOU asked…”] I guess I got excited.
He didn't ask for any of this. She took it upon herself to start this…
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