In Defense of OutKast

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the shifting tides and trends of social media, you may have noticed that Atlanta luminaries OutKast have recently played their first show in nearly a decade at the first weekend of Coachella.

The hype surrounding the reunion has been bubbling past the boiling point and the expectations surrounding their performance were likely unsurpassable. So now that the dust has settled, Andre 3K rocked oversized overalls, Big Boi prowled the stage despite having a torn a ACL, and the reception is… incredibly lukewarm.

Firsthand accounts of the reunion reported issues with poor sound, confusing setlist choices, a disillusioned Andre, and Future? Really? I tried to temper my unrealistic fanboy expectations when I first watched the Coachella stream, but from the time the second the twinkling synths introduced the breackneck intensity of “B.O.B,” I was hooked.

The Atlanta hip-hop deities seemed as on point as ever as they effortlessly traded their most syllabically complex verses like schoolyard jokes, and Big Boi and Andre smiled like old friends instead of international superstars.

The setlist was nearly immaculate. All of the obligatory classics were represented along with early year odds-and-ends peppered in to please veteran OutKast fans. The set choices that seemed to rile attendees the most were Andre’s solo cuts off of The Love Below. I’ll admit his performance of these tunes was more than a little awkward, but there’s two points people seem to forget when criticizing Dre’s reintroduction into the limelight.

1. While Big Boi’s two solo releases have kept him a seasoned performer since OutKast’s hiatus, Andre has retreated from the stage and naturally still has some cobwebs to dust off his live persona.

2. Those Love Below tracks had never been performed until Coachella. Was Dre being a little overambitious playing those songs for the first time? Yes. But who really ever expected him to play it safe?

As for the technical complaints of the sound being lackluster, that was understandably disappointing. But the blame largely falls on Coachella for an improper soundcheck. It’s also baffling that Coachella decided to cut their closer, the infectious “The Whole World”, off halfway through. Sure, OutKast was going past their allotted time, but the most anticipated act of the entire festival deserved to have their set extended a few more minutes to finish off their last song.

There is one complaint, however, that I feel is entirely valid. Future. Off all the stellar names that have rotated through OutKast’s features over the years, why oh why was Future deemed an appropriate guest? He was introduced with a brief snippet of his catchy yet guilty-pleasure hit “Same Damn Time” that cut through OutKast’s energy like a rusty butter knife through some awesome piece of (insert favorite flavor here) cake the world had been clamoring to taste for years.

I have ample amounts of respect for Future, but the newcomer simply did not match the magnitude of Kast’s comeback.

OutKast still has nearly 40 shows left, so before you think of throwing stones at the occasionally rocky first reunion, remember that these two friends never had to come back. As of yet, no new music has been planned, they certainly didn’t reunite solely for the cash incentive, and they have no special interests to plug.

Above all, OutKast came back for the fans. So the least we can do is have a little bit of patience for the two guys who helped put Atlanta on the map, no?