Before they were the legendary, diamond-selling duo, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and André “André 3000” Benjamin were just 2 dope boys in a Cadillac; living in East Point, Atlanta and trying to get put on in the rap game.
While students at Tri-Cities High School, Big Boi and Andre 3000 teamed up and sharpened their skills by participating in rap battles during lunchtime at the school cafeteria. They didn’t even have a group name yet, initially wanting to be called “2 Shades Deep” or “The Misfits.”
A chance encounter with Rico Wade, one third of the Atlanta production team Organized Noize, outside a beauty supply store led to the duo freestyling for the producer. The beat they chose to rhyme over? None other than the remix version of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario.”
“We performed outside a beauty supply store rhyming over A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Scenario’ remix,” Big Boi told Atlanta Magazine. “Rico Wade loved it and sent us to [bare-bones production studio] the Dungeon, where it all started.”
The two rappers freestyled over the instrumental for close to 10 minutes, impressing Wade who later told NPR’s Microphone Check: “We felt like we met some kids, 15, 16-years-old, that could rap for seven minutes straight back-and-forth and didn’t break.”
“This was rapping. It’s not freestyling, cause they backing each other up,” Wade remembered. “We got something. We got something. So in my heart, we gon’ go hard for them. That’s the best part about it.”
From there, the duo signed to LaFace Records, settled on their group name, OutKast (a synonym for misfit) and started working on their debut album. Organized Noize would go on to produce a majority of the music on their first four albums: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATLiens, Aquemini, Stankonia, as well as Goodie Mob’s Soul Food, TLC’s hit single “Waterfalls” and plenty more.
Over 20 years later from signing their first record deal, at Phife Dawg’s memorial service, Andre 3000 recalled the influence of Tribe on OutKast and rapping over the “Scenario” beat:
Man, it’s about Phife. I wasn’t prepared to say anything, but it’s like, Outkast would not be Outkast. When we got our deal, we rapped for Rico Wade in the parking lot. The only thing me and Big had was “Scenario” on cassette and we rapped for days, just going.Read Andre 3000’s Moving Tribute to Tribe Called Quest, Phife Dawg | Rolling Stone