OutKast is one of hip-hop's most successful and creative groups

OutKast is easily one of the most noted and respected hip-hop groups in the game. Big Boi and Andre 3000 met in the East Point section of Atlanta when they were sixteen. The outfit combined funk, soul, jazz and blues influences with hip-hop lyrics on its 1994 debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, on which the group teamed up with Organized Noize, whixh helped the act hone its still-burgeoning sound.

The way that Big Boi and Andre 3000 used their lyrics to reflect the contrasts in their lifestyles were astounding. Andre, always the more reflective and eclectic of the two, provided the perfect balance to Big Boi's super-cool style. When ATLiens was released, in 1996, we had come to expect nothing but greatness, and OutKast delivered.

The group hit the nail on the head with 1998's Aquemini, which explored in more depth the trippier world of hip-hop. The album featured George Clinton and Slick Rick and included "Liberation," a ridiculous (in a good way) posse cut with a number of guest vocalists such as Cee-Lo, Erykah Badu and Big Rube. Its followup, 2000's Stankonia, made an even bigger impact, with politically charged songs like "Bombs Over Baghdad." Stankonia ended up winning a pair of Grammys for best rap album and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Ms. Jackson."

For a while rumors swirled about OutKast splitting up, yet when the double album, Speakerboxx/The Love Below dropped, although the material was individual, the two were as united as ever. Over the course of its career, OutKast has produced hits on top of hits on top of hits, from "Spottieottiedopelicious" and "Rosa Parks," for which they were sued by the famous civil-rights activist, to "ATLiens" and all the other ones on your iPod right at this moment, the ones that bump hard like it's 1997.

February has traditionally been the month when the contributions from, traditions of and historical facts about African-Americans are celebrated. In honor of Black History Month, Backbeat will be celebrating iconic figures in the world of black music.

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