Today in Hip Hop History: September 29, 1998
Southern hip hop duo OutKast released their third studio album, Aquemini, through LaFace Records in 1998. The album title is a linguistic blend of the two words Aquarius and Gemini, Andre 3000 and Big Boi‘s respective Zodiac signs. Aquemini represents the two extremely different personalities of the duo members. The album contained production from Babyface, Mr. DJ, Organized Noize and OutKast themselves. It featured Lil Will, Raekwon, George Clinton, Sleepy Brown, Big Gipp, Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo Green and several others.
Aquemini was recorded in Bobby Brown‘s Bosston Recording Studios and Doppler Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. The duo took their time, recording for two years, to put out their best work possible. The album has a Motown feel to it, with several live instrumentation acts and a variety of various musicians featuring on the instrumentals. It was revered for its experimental elements, at the peak of the group’s extra-terrestrial like symbolism.
Most of the album sees lyrical content switch from science-fiction stories to urban struggle raps. On one hand of the album, Andre represents the eccentric poet and the other sees Big Boi as the player rapper. Big Boi envelops much of the conventional aspects of the album, with typical hip hop topics and styles. Andre represents the experimental aspect of the album, with unorthodox themes and lyricism. Together, the group continued to accentuate their southern hip hop style with pride.
The group originally planned to create a film alongside Aquemini but scrapped the idea when MTV attempted to re-cast their movie. The album received phenomenal reviews after its release. Aquemini has been included on several publications’ list of greatest album of all time. Accolades include Paste’s “Best Atlanta hip hop album of all time,” New Nation’s 80th best album by black artists, Hip Hop Connection’s 11th greatest album from 1995 to 2005 and several others.
Aquemini is a hip hop classic. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200, behind Jay-Z‘s Vol 2…Hard Knock Life. It became RIAA Certified Platinum and has sold over 2 million total copies. It represents an interesting facet to the group’s legendary career, and is personally one of my favorite albums of all time.