ATLiens is Outakst's second album and it followed up their ground breaking album, Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik. With hip-hop leaning toward a 90's (Golden Era) trend in 2011, I think it's important to point out that it doesn't mean NYC/East Coast hip hop exclusively. There was a lot of music that pushed the limits from NYC, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, California and all over the US. Hip hop is a culture and this culture doesn't only live on the East or West coasts. I don't want to start a debate about which city put out the most/best music in the Golden Era because that's pointless. The point is that the Golden Era was great because ground breaking artists started popping up across the country and contributed to the culture. The diversity and creativity of the music put out from '92-96 was mind blowing and hopefully, aspiring mc's and producers can pull something from the Golden Era and make it their own.
ATLiens, Outkast, 1996
ATLiens came out right after Goodie Mob's Soul Food. Music coming out of Atlanta was consistent for about 7 years with albums coming from Outkast and Goodie Mob. Goodie Mob and Outkast opened the door for all of the talent to come out of Atlanta from 1993 'til infinity.
For artists that put a lot of thought into their work, there is a point when they question if they should build off the momentum that they established or if they should do something new/different. I don't think there is a question where this album falls on that spectrum. Unlike some new direction albums, at no point did I feel like I needed time to get familiarized with ATLiens. Outkast defied their own precedent and what everyone predicted them to do and it paid off with ATLiens. It also kept that creative door open on albums to come after ATLiens (Aquemini, Stankonia, The Love Below/Speakerboxx, etc).
Andre 3000 and Big Boi created a new world on a cd and there wasn't anything before it that can compare. Bass heavy, experimental, fresh and lyrically advanced, ATLiens is one of the best hip hop albums of all time. There are some really tough scratches on ATLiens by David "Mr. DJ" Sheats and it keeps their feet on the ground with hip hop while their heads were in outer space.
I remember the first time I heard it. I was going to a convenience store with my brother and he slipped the cd in the '93 Mazda 626 he was driving. I couldn't leave the car because I had to listen to the album. Since 1996, when ATLiens dropped, it has been part of my rotation.
ATLiens uses mood, atmospheric and contemplative production to take you to the different planets with the ATLiens, Big Boi and Andre (at the time).
"watching ceiling fans go 'round, trying to catch that feelin off instrumentals....'"
On this album, Andre 3000 really made some creative advancements with his lyrics. He proved his talent on Outkast's first album, but he brought it to another level on this album. Dre's ability to create vivid images though metaphor and rhyme could not and still can't be compared to anyone else. You can literally hear his coming of age on the record. ATLiens is the album where Andre shed his rapper persona and just became a hip hop artist (emphasis on artist).
[audio:http://ra-nyc.com/boywithstick/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/14-13th-Floor-Growing-Old.mp3|titles=14 13th Floor-Growing Old]
Big Boi shined brightest on Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik, but he also stepped up his game for ATLiens too. His amazingly quick tongue, humor and razor sharp wit and pimpin' persona contrasted Dre's new direction with consistency that reminds you it's and Outkast album.
It's worth it to dig this one up and add it to your collection because it's a classic. Outkast has produced a lot of amazing music and this album made them who they are today, even if Big Boi and Andre 3000 are doing their solo projects for the time being.
Atliens, Wheelz of Steel, Jazzy Belle, Elevators, Babylon, Wailin', Mainstream, Decatur Psalm, E.T. (Extraterrestrial), 13th Floor/Growing Old and Elevators (Me and You) [DNP 86 Remix]