They’re a few more iconic tracks in hip hop history than OutKast’s 2000 smash hit “Ms. Jackson.” The second single off their groundbreaking third album, Stankonia, it became the duo’s first number one hit and went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
But did you know that the inspiration for the song came from Andre 3000’s real-life relationship with Erykah Badu and her mother? In a 2000 interview with MTV News, Stacks revealed that “‘Ms. Jackson’ came from just wondering — after a relationship kinda goes to the left — about a parent of a girl who has a child, like, how does she feel about the situation? And that’s what birthed that song.”
In a later interview with Vibe magazine, the legendary hip hop lyricist shared more details about the song’s creation. “‘Ms. Jackson’ was an acoustic guitar song that I was doing at home,” he recalled. “Then I just converted it over into something people could understand a little bit more.”
Badu, who was still fresh from the breakup with Andre at the time, had mixed feelings when she first heard the song. In a 2016 interview with the Rap Radar podcast, the Queen of Neo Soul recalled working on her second album Mama’s Gun when Roots member James Poyser let her know about “Ms. Jackson.”
“I still had a kind of sore spot, like I don’t want to hear that, especially when I heard Big Boi’s verse,” she recalled. “And then when I heard André’s verse, I felt very good because his verse was really really inspiring.”
“He just told how he felt and I’ve always respected that and listened to what he felt and appreciated it,” she continued before talking about how her mom felt about the track. “How did my mama feel? Baby she bought herself a Ms. Jackson license plate. She had the mug, she had the ink pen, she had the headband, everything. That’s who loved it.”