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“Hey Ya!” united the globe like no other

September 2003 dawned upon a fractured planet. Bin Laden’s lingering threats paralyzed Americans, Israel and Palestine dueled in a fruitless land battle, the European Union railed against George Bush’s controversial Guantanamo Bay and the United States splintered into partisan lines as the 2004 election loomed closer.

In the midst of the global frenzy, one simple outcry changed the music universe forever: “Shake it like a Polaroid picture!”

On September 9, 2003, OutKast’s addictive, Beatles-inspired hip-hop crossover powerhouse “Hey Ya!” poured out of radios across the globe.

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The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks, and achieved Top Ten status in the UK, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Germany, France, Ireland, Switzerland and Australia.

Members Big Boi and Andre 3000 struck the perfect balance between pop accessibility and Southern hip-hop tradition. Andre’s lyrical reflection on the deterioration of long-term relationships in the 2000’s was packaged into a two-word chorus played over and over again at both middle school dances and dive bars.

And “Hey Ya!” is still relevant 10 years later, when Atlanta has yet to find two cultural ambassadors as universally respected as Andre 3000 and Big Boi.

While OutKast became global sensations, Atlanta won the greatest victory. Never before or since has the spirit of Southern hip-hop been so well-packaged that an audience appreciated it on a global scale.

OutKast’s discography transcended the boundaries of any genre it borrowed from; electronica, rap, funk, soul, pop, heavy metal were all treated as musical spices that OutKast expertly manipulated to form their best tracks.

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Cee-Lo Green has come the closest to filling the empty throne left by OutKast’s wake. But his two most popular singles, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and “F**k You” hardly compare to OutKast’s 15 Billboard 100 chart-topping singles and each platinum album.

Hints and rumors regarding either their reunion or the total disintegration of their friendship surface around the Internet every few months, but neither claim has substance. Big Boi maintains the lack of any feud between the two lifelong friends and Andre asserts that any OutKast reunion could not be further tucked away in his mind.

So, unfortunately, the brief momentum of “Hey Ya!” may become a relic, a unique snapshot where the planets aligned to legitimize the soul of Southern hip-hop to the globe.