Talk to five different OutKast fans about their favourite OutKast record and you’ll get five different answers.
The legendary Atlanta duo is one of the few rap acts in history who doesn’t have a universally agreed upon classic – instead, they have four, or five depending on how you look at it.
In my opinion, OutKast’s third album, Aquemini dropped in 1998 (an incredible year for hip hop which featured classic drops from Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z and DMX) is their creative zenith, combining the outwardly sounds of ATLiens with the earthly tones of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, with live instrumentation thrown into the mix.
From the confrontational opener, “Return of the ‘G'”, where Andre addresses all the talks about the duo to the album closer, “Chonkyfire”, which features a snippet of their chilling prophecy at The Source Awards (“the South got somethin’ to say”), Aquemini is front-to-back as perfect a hip hop album as you can make.
The fans and critics certainly agreed. The album was universally lauded when it dropped September 29, 1998, with Charlie Braxton of The Source (back when the magazine was still considered the bible of hip hop music) praising OutKast for their “uncanny blend of sonic beauty, poignant lyricism and spirituality that compels without commanding.”
The Source awarded Aquemini with a rare Five Mic rating, making it the first Southern rap album to receive the distinction, and the ninth album overall. In The Source’s history, there have only been 15 albums that originally received Five Mics:
- People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm – A Tribe Called Quest (199)
- Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em – Eric B. & Rakim (1990)
- AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted – Ice Cube (1990)
- One for All – Brand Nubian (1990)
- De La Soul Is Dead – De La Soul (1991)
- The Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest (1991)
- Illmatic – Nas (1994)
- Life After Death – The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)
- Aquemini – Outkast (1998)
- The Blueprint – Jay-Z
- Stillmatic – Nas
- The Fix – Scarface
- The Naked Truth – Lil’ Kim
- Trill OG – Bun B
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
Rico Wade: The Source gave us five mics. That meant a lot as an accomplishment. We really trying to please our fans. At this point, we were very confident that we had a fan base that was riding with us. We wanted to keep them happy and make them proud for standing by us and standing with us.20 Years Later: Organized Noize Remembers ‘Aquemini’ | Tidal