Black People Rocking the Fuck Out.
Antoine Patton and Andre Benjamin have enjoyed a long successful career as the rap group Outkast. It hardly seems 20 years have past since we last saw them perform together. Aside from being at the top of the hip hop royalty shared with Tribe Called Quest,Leaders Of The New School and,Busta Rhymes,they also garner their respect. Being in the music industry myself I was able to get tix to see the return of ATL’s prodigal sons. I did my typical Tomi thang and left way early to get to theCounterpoint Fest in Rome,Ga. There were clouds in the sky but I paid them no mind cause the day before it was sunny and 80 degrees. But this is Atlanta and true to its history I ran into the aftermath of what I swear was a funnel cloud. I was 40 mins into my ride by then so I kept going.
After being tossed around a bit I arrived at will call only to have them shut it down due to weather. Me and about 15 others huddled under a small tent waiting out the storm to get in. Being a Capricorn I can’t stand confusion so after about 30 mins when the rain let up my mind was set to go home. Not to mention I was wearing almost all white so this was a total fail in my mind. I tipped thru the mud to my car and headed back home. “I’ll catch them next time” I thought to myself. On the way I stopped at a local Waffle House to eat,got some gas for my car and started driving while thinking of what to tell my friend who got me the tix. I felt bad cause they had obviously gone thru some trouble to get them. I texted them when I reached the city with a very apologetic and sincere thank you but I was dressed wrong,it was muddy and will call closed on me. The return text was quick and very poignant..”I AINT LETTING YOU GO OUT LIKE THAT! TURN AROUND AND COME BACK,YOURE GONNA HATE YOURSELF TOMORROW IF YOU DONT! THIS IS OUR WOODSTOCK!!
The last part made me think. I have missed a lot of great moments in history being born in the wrong decade. Was this another one? I tried to play it off but they persisted and I relented after my girlfriend said “you really should show your support. Plus you’re part of that history”. I got in my car and headed back. It had long stopped raining so I had an easier ride this time. Upon arriving I began to get a glimpse of what it may have been to be at Woodstock. There was a long procession of cars lining a 1 lane street winding into the trees and field. We inched along at 2 miles per hour passing large generator lights. You could hear the music in the distance and as I got closer I started to get excited about the show. The energy among the people that we’re walking pass our cars (faster than us I might add) was so good that you couldn’t help but feel it. I started thinking about the string of hits Outkast had and how it affected the music world. And just like Hendrix at Woodstock how they have made fans with white,black,young,old,male and female music lovers. I finally parked my car and began to slosh my way another 10mins walking to the new will call area.
By now I had totally given up on my white outfit and said I’m gonna think the way the folks did at Woodstock and just have a good time. The first person I saw that I recognized was my friend that got me the tix. “Now THATS what I’m talking bout!” They said. We hugged and they pointed me in the right direction. I got my credentials and walked another 5mins thru the already gathered crowd of people. Along the way random people would speak,wave and comment on how great Outkast was gonna be. “Man,can you believe we’re gonna see Outkast?!” one partygoer said to me. We gave each other a pound and headed to get a good spot. I began to think about how the vibe was in the 60’s and thought this is probably really close. I felt great being in a crowd of like minded people with one thing in common..good music. I was in a VIP viewing area and ran into several people from my musical past that I hadn’t seen in years! Only Dre and Big Boi could pull these folks together in one place after all this time.
I also need to mention I had family onstage as well. There were music pioneers and trailblazers standing behind them. I have often felt like the guy in Standing In The Shadows of Motown. There was a scene when the Funk Brothers were at a restaurant and the song My Girl comes on the radio. The waitress taking the order squeals “that’s my SONG!”,not knowing the guy that wrote the guitar riff was sitting in front of her. The same goes for the Outkast band. That audience has no idea that Keisha Jackson and Joi Gilliam are singers that have had success themselves in the music world. From “Hot Little Love Affair” to “Sunshine and The Rain”. They don’t know Debra Killings is Princess from Princess and Starbreeze who recorded Prince’s “It’s Gonna Be Lonely”. They don’t know David Whild is one half of the funk rock band Whild Peach featuring “Screechy Peach” Crenshaw,who had a hand in writing “Liberation” FOR Outkast. They don’t know why the reason the horns sounds so polished is because Jerry and Jason Freeman toured with Earth,Wind & Fire. Of course they don’t know Sleepy Brown is son of legend Ray Brown from Brick so he’s got music in his blood. Omar Phillips on drums makes them move because he has recorded with Usher,Outkast,Donell Jones and others. Just like Hendrix,Dre and Big Boi use musicians that they respect which makes it all the better for their fans. As the lights dim and DJ Swift drops the first 808 explosion I can’t help but compare it to Woodstock. The excitement in the audience. The feeling of family from the front to the back. The pride of having a hometown artist after a rocky start at Coachella come to Atlanta and prove they still have chemistry.
As for me, my chest stuck out like a bullfrog when I hear songs come across the speakers from records that I played. Seeing the people sing,dance and rap along with songs that are now a part of music history is amazing. From Bombs Over Bagdad to So Fresh and So Clean to She Lives In My Lap to The Way You Move to Hey Ya,Outkast delivers what we all want to see. History at home. My friend was right,though I missed it in the 60’s,I finally got to Woodstock. Stank you Outkast for saving the best for home.
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