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Produced by Organized Noize
Who says a player can't trade his Braves fitted for a polyester turban without getting his ghetto pass revoked? Dre silences those who "get the wrong impression of expression" with one of the hardest verses committed to tape.
Rico Wade: Dre was already doing weird shit. It was almost like you just wanted to make sure, 'Goddamn, you still there right?' And he let folks know he was still there on this one. And then Big Boi went in. Both of them cats. That's when Big and Dre were coming into their own. That's why they named the album Aquemini
Andre 3000: I was young and wilder and some of my fashion choices people didn't accept at the time. I started getting flak from some people, so they were like, 'Either he's gay or on drugs.' And it's funny because I was high as hell all the way through Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, but by ATLiens and Aquemini I wasn't smoking or drinking.
Big Boi: Back then, there was a whole bunch of shit talking. People just couldn't understand how we were making the type of music we were making. There were a lot of attacks coming at my partner, so we wanted OutKast to be like, 'You fuck with my homeboy, we gonna fuck you up.' We wanted to let people know, this man doesn't stand by himself. I mean, that's my dog. It's a team effort.
Andre 3000: With Big Boi standing by me I knew I had to address some of the shit 'cause I can't have my homeboy looking bad. I knew a lotta people felt like Southernplayalistic was some of our hardest work and they felt like we strayed from that. So 'Return of the Gangsta' was trying to give them a sense of, 'Hey, I'm still a regular person.'
At the end of the day, you've still got to go through the same neighborhoods so sometimes you have to say stuff to let people know what it is. I'm a man so you can't say some of this stuff to me. The things in that verse were addressing all of that.
"Return of the 'G'" skit
When neighborhood "thugs" stop by their friendly mom-and-pop record store to check up on that new Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique album, the owner tries to steer them toward "that new, new OutKast" instead. The thugs emphatically decline: "Man, fuck them. I ain't fuckin' with them no mo'."
Andre 3000: I wrote out the skits. It was like a parody of everything going on at the time. Back then all the hood record labels were called stuff like Slap a Bitch Records or Big Dick Records, so we made up the group name Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique. Me, Sleepy [Brown] and Cee-Lo were going to form an actual band called Pimp Trick Gangsta Clique. We recorded some stuff but never released anything under that name. It was really just a funny thing we made up for an album you'd buy at the record store.
Produced by OutKast for Earthtone
Could the Civil Rights icon be a metaphor for OutKast's attempt to overcome the regional segregation within hip-hop itself? Yeah, right. "Hush that fuss: Everybody move to the back of the bus."
Andre 3000: I actually submitted that beat to [Diddy's old group] Total - 'cause I was going with Keisha from Total around that time - but they couldn't use it, so we ended up using it.
By the time Aquemini came, I was stretching out as a producer. Big Boi was the family man. He had just had another kid, so he would come hang out at the studio and listen to the beats and make these big hooks. So it was a cool combination.
Big Boi: I took the beat home and I remember I was in my bedroom, and I was like, 'I got the hook!' I was playing the music loud as hell and I was just singing the hook: 'Aah-haah, hush that fuss!' Like, that's it, we need to lay it down. So then, you know how we use these metaphors, [so we named it] Rosa Parks. Boom. We always do stuff like that and shit just falls into place.
Neal H. Pogue (sound engineer): Naming that song 'Rosa Parks' was a big, big statement too, because it was just trying to show people don't forget about where we've come from and where we are now.
Mr. DJ: We got a lot of flak about that. A lot of brothers got held up in lawsuits because of that song. But it was never meant to be a derogatory song towards Rosa Parks. That never even crossed our mind until we heard there was a complaint.
Andre 3000: Their claim was we used her name to sell records and we were like that really wasn't the case.
Mr. DJ: We were just trying to use her as a symbol - "Everybody move to the back of the bus." It was just a real fact. We used to have to go to the back of the bus. It was just something real and we tried to make something positive out of it, not in a bad way.
Neal H. Pogue: It was kind of weird, because I think Rosa Parks was misled. She was misled by her handlers. They just wanted her to get some money out of it. And [OutKast] didn't mean any harm; it was a tribute. But her people felt like it was a slander.
Andre 3000: I think that was a huge confusion and misunderstanding, but when you're working with someone of [Rosa Parks'] standing you've gotta do your job. I understood it. But me and Big always said if something comes across our lap we're gonna fight it. We've got enough money to do it.
Mr. DJ: When we recorded that song, the studio had some dope wood floors, so I can remember when we all went in the recording booth and did the stomping and the clapping on that little breakdown.
Donny Mathis: One Sunday after I got out of church, Dre and Big called me to go in the studio. One of the first songs that I worked on was "Rosa Parks." That's me playing acoustic guitar, the bluesy guitar. That's Preston Crump playing bass, but somehow they got the credits mixed up and it says that Preston's playing [electric] guitar.
Andre 3000: After doing the track and hearing where we were going with it, it sounded like a hoe-down, it sounded porchy. And I knew [my stepfather, Rev. Robert] Hodo played harmonica, so I was like, 'Hey, come over and play.' And what's crazy is he killed it in like one or two takes.
Produced by Organized Noize
The track that likely made East Coast-centric magazine The Source wet itself, it featured Wu-Tang Clan's resident dope boy Raekwon the Chef, making him OutKast's first non-Dungeon Family feature.
Raekwon: I was in Atlanta 'cause I had a nice place out there in Buckhead, and I met Big Boi in Lenox Square Mall. He seemed like a cool, genuine dude, and we both were fans of each other's work. We both were like, "Yo, let's get up and do something." Two or three days later I went to the Dungeon house and we started running through some beats.
Kawan Prather (former LaFace A&R): Big was there writing his verse and it was just like how the interlude on the album sounds. There was Hennessy, there was some other stuff, and everybody just kicked it for a minute and it just worked out. The majority of what happened in the Organized [Noize] camp was just random. Like, "Hey man, I just ran into George Clinton." But it was random based on the circle of people that we were, who we were attracted to, and who was attracted to us.
Rico Wade: Dre was fucking with Erykah Badu, too. 'Cause I just remember us having a lot of work going on where we were like, "Yo man, OutKast just needs to come to the studio and we're just going to play ya'll some stuff. Y'all tell us what y'all like." I remember Erykah being in there with them. That "Skew It On the Bar-B" beat came on and everybody was like, "That's it."
Ray [Murray] killed it. I remember that snare and that kick, we kept wanting to use it over and over again. Its like it made history: the "Skew It" snare. Other motherfuckers have used it, sampled it. That's hip-hop. People know they go right in there and sample those drum sounds. And Ray says it was a play off of a "Wonder Woman" [TV show] sample.
Big Boi: That was the first time I had ever been in the booth with a nigga when he was rapping. Rae was about to do his verse, and he was like, "C'mon god, get in the booth." I'm like, "Get in the booth with you?" He said, "Man, that's how we do it. Let me get that energy, come in here with me." So he was doing his verse, and we were just passing the Hennessy back and forth. The cup was spilling shit, nigga's necklace was dangling - that's what you hear, like cling-cling and all kinda shit. There was so much liquor spilled in the booth from him just doing his verse.
Raekwon: We were just having fun, talking about real shit. And they know one thing about me, which is the way I talk and have conversations. So they were like, "Just go in the booth and do whatever you wanna do." So I went in there and did that and they used that [interlude] on the record.
When that record came to New York City, it opened up the floodgates for the South to emerge and do their thing. The South was not being played up in New York at all at that time. Me and OutKast, we definitely opened up that door.
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