Outkast: Have You Been to Stankonia?

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Outkast’s new album is more than a record. It’s a trip, a journey, a transformation, an experience. Are you ready?

Finally the sun came up.

Outside the morning has a dewy cling that only the South knows. Soon everything is quiet, the photographer has packed up his equipment, clothes have been put back on, doors have been slammed and the SUVs and the Benz SLKs driven away, leaving only you to rub your eyes and wonder what the fuck just happened in the span of 18 hours.

Big Boi and Andre are Outkast, and they travel in a realm of magic realism they call Stankonia. S-T-A-N-K-O-N-I-A. It’s a place where the weed is purple and the greens and blues of a stripper’s dress suddenly match the colors of the early morning sky and the pine tops of the Georgia woods. In Stankonia searing electric guitar solos meet the godsong of the Morris Brown College choir, and when studio tapes are flipped and run backwards, a different music emerges.

Stankonia is where they got they funk from.

But first, are you experienced? Uh, have you ever been… experienced? You, with your conscious rappers and Black Augusts? You, with your headwrap, and you, with your backpack? You, with your getting-it, and you with your 360 degrees of hip-hop? Have you ever been knock-kneed, mind-blown, zooted and looted, all funked up and no place to go?

OUT IN THE COUNTRY, PAST FAYETTEVILLE, GEORGIA
The thing about Big Boi’s house is that inside it he has a Boom Boom Room, and the thing about the Boom Boom Room is that there’s a stage in the corner. The stage isn’t big, maybe three feet by three feet, but the surface is mirrored and there’s a pole in the middle that reaches to the ceiling.

In fact, the stage is so small that you really don’t notice it’s there until one of the women gets off the couch and starts to dance around the pole. Except that it’s not really dancing, just a repetitive slow-mo gyration suggesting ennui. No one’s really watching her and she’s not dancing for anybody else, a caged bird needing no listener to sing its song.

On the other side of the Boom Boom Room, several more women languish on low-slung couches. They all have names in which Ys replace Is—Chyna and Kym. At the bar, more of Outkast’s Earthtone crew—Slimm, C-Bone, DJ and Nathaniel—are making headway on a gallon of Hennessy and more than a couple of blunts. Unmastered tracks from Outkast’s upcoming album blast from the stereo system.

A lot of shit is talked in the Boom Boom Room, but most of the conversation remains unspoken. It’s like any foreign land in that way, men and women acting out roles that are difficult to understand when observed from the straight world. The only thing to do is keep up, keep your eyes open, and try not to pass out in that chair in the kitchen.

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POSTED March 5, 2012 4:30PM IN FEATURES Comments (1) TAGS: , , , , , , ,

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  1. Confused Cody says:

    There should be a warning on the features page that this was from 2000. When the page said “Outkast’s new album” I was about to shart everywhere. Thank god I knew better. Just sayin.