What do you do if you’re a musician and you drop three classic albums in a row? You drop another classic.
It’s probably easier said then done. (Ask A Tribe Called Quest).
Legendary rap duo Outkast found themselves in this position in 2000. Since they made their debut in 1994, Kast — made up of Andre 3000 and Big Boi — had already dropped Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATLiens and Aquemini: albums all considered to be classics by those who know. (Aquemini was given five mics by The Source, back when that shit still mattered).
The amazing thing about Outkast’s first three albums is that they all sounded somewhat different, getting a little spacier each album.
However, when Outkast dropped Stankonia on October 31, 2000, the ATL-duo took people to another galaxy. Stankonia would have been the biggest album in the world that day, if it weren’t for another project.
Jay Z dropped the highly anticipated The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, Hov’s fifth album in four years. Jay was already one of the most well known rappers in the world, but it wasn’t always easy. Jay’s first two albums, Reasonable Doubt and In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, though street classics, bricked badly.
However, Hard Knock Life and Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter were huge successes. So with his 2000 album, Jay went the collaborative route, creating an album that featured Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek on most songs. (There were features from Roc-A-Fella throwaways Amil and Freeway, as well).
Considering the parties involved, October 31, 2000 was one of the biggest days in hip-hop history. Since today is October 31st, we thought it would be cool to take a look back at the two albums that came out 13 years ago today: Jay Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia and Outkast’s Stankonia.
The First Single:
Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”
The contrast between Outkast’s first single and Jay’s first single is amazing. Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” which was the first song that Hov and The Neptunes did together, was a party anthem made for the radio, while “B.O.B.” was something more experimental. (The track has a two-minute guitar solo!)
While “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” charted pretty decently, reaching number 10, “B.O.B.” kinda bricked. The song reached 69 on the Hot 100.
The videos were also vastly different: while “I Just Wanna Love You” was the typical in-the-club video, “B.O.B.” was a wonderful, random mess: featuring monkeys, strippers, purple grass and preachers.
The Billboard Charts:
Earlier this year, hip-hop had one of its best weeks ever when J. Cole, Mac Miller and Kanye West all released albums on the same day. Cole dropped Born Sinner, which was highly anticipated because of the Miguel-featured “Power Trip.” And people were looking forward to Yeezus, because, well, he’s Kanye West. Yeezus would go on to have the bigger first week sales, but as the weeks passed, Cole would go on to outsell Kanye.
It’s eerie how similarly the Jay and Kast releases went down. The Dynasty would be the number one album in the country, selling 557,789 copies in its first week, while Kast would have to settle for number two, selling 530,000 copies.
However, as the weeks passed, Kast would go on to outsell Jay, mostly due to the success of “Miss Jackson.”
Becoming a Star
Before Stankonia was released, Outkast was a popular act in hip-hop circles, but not one known on Top 40 radio. Jay, on the other hand, was universally seen as the second or third most popular rapper in the mainstream (Eminem just stopped the world with his Marshall Mathers LP in March, so he was number one, while DMX was still very popular).
Outkast became what they are because of one song: “Miss Jackson,” the all-time great baby mama-drama anthem. “Miss Jackson” would hit number one on the Billboard charts, and became a staple on shows like TRL. (Thing would go to another stratosphere a couple of years later with the release of Andre 3000’s “Hey Ya”).
Time has been very kind to Outkast and their Stankonia album. Most people recognize the album as one of the greatest LPs over the last 50 years or so, appearing on almost every publication’s great albums of the decades list.
As for The Dynasty: most recognize the project as a good-but-not great, middle of the pack Jay Z album. Plus, the album was overshadowed by Jay’s next project: The Blueprint, which is a masterpiece.
Happy Throwback Thursday and scroll down to hear both albums now.