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Dear OutKast

An open letter beseeching Big and Dre to play the ATL*



What up, folk?

I won't waste time with petty introductions because I'm quite certain y'all remember me. We came up together like elevators. Matter fact, we go back like Stray Cats rocking V-neck sweaters with tennis rackets slung over our backs. Or like post-soul babies sporting vintage Jordache and silk shirts under Starter coats and Kangols.

A congratulations is in order, no doubt. When I heard y'all were reconnecting like Voltron for a 40-plus festival tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary, man, I got geeked. The one and only OutKast, back outchea. YEEK. But on the same note, I feel this odd sense of detachment from the whole thing, like I'm watching it all play out from the cheap seats instead of the dugout.

See, when it comes to being OutKasted, I'm claiming true. And honestly, I don't consider myself a fan as much as I am fam. Something about growing up in Georgia, I suppose. You can't play in the same red clay and inhale the smell of sap from them sticky sweet pine trees without being marked for life. It's an unspoken kinship that runs deeper than rap.

From the beginning, y'all represented it to the fullest. That Dungeon Family funk fueled this entire city's Southernplayalisticadillac ambitions. Though long embedded in our DNA, OutKast was the first to transfer it to wax so the whole world could watch us levitate.

They still couldn't see y'all up North back then. The birthplace of hip-hop had virgin ears like a mug, huh? Took a minute to funk 'em up. The West Coast was only one or two generations removed from the dirt so they couldn't help but feel it in their bones. As for those below the Mason-Dixon, "Hootie Hoo" was like a clarion call announcing that the South had finally arrived to take its rightful place on the throne. Nothing but king shit, all day an day.

Now to the point of my humble grumble: This is not a narrow-minded rant from a provincial fan who's pissed because his favorite group is coming with it and he didn't get a backstage pass. OK, maybe it is. But with good intention, I assure you. I know it's too early to confirm so forgive me for drawing any premature conclusions, but word on the curb is y'all ain't playing a show in Atlanta? And I'm sorry, but CounterPoint just doesn't count. The closest scheduled festival OutKast is headlining can't be an hour outside metro Atlanta. Don't get it twisted; I've already purchased my ticket. But for the original ATLiens to do a flyover without touching down in Atlantis, well, that's like E.T. forgetting to phone home.

I don't know if y'all are hip, but Atlanta's taken some major hits lately. We lost the Braves to the 'burbs. Meanwhile, the Burbanites are moving intown and beautifying the soul out of the city. They don't even want us to have strip clubs no mo. I swear any day now IFOs will be landing in Decatur.

Nostalgia is a motherfucker, but it feels like we need a reason to Remember Atlanta again. Kinda like that righteous revival Goodie Mob threw back in '09. Perhaps y'all get tired of hearing it, but it can't be overstated: For the last 20 years, this city's cultural identity — and the economic downpour resulting from it — has rested squarely on your shoulders. We need to celebrate that.

And for the life of me, I just can't see myself doing so at Coachella or some other far-flung festival. Hell, I don't want to be the only one singing the words to "Liberation" because the rest of the crowd didn't hop on the bandwagon till Stankonia dropped. And I'd rather refrain from bumping shoulders with twerpsters whose clueless tweets populated a Tumblr page called "Who Is OutKast." I almost feel sorry for the young lames.

The scene I envision is simple. I want seven nights of sold-out shows at the Fox Theatre. I want Mayor Reed to sign a proclamation making it OutKast Week in Atlanta. I want a parade route from Headland and Delowe to the last stop on the 86 Lithonia. I want Peachtree Street shut down as OutKast comes cruising through with the top dropped on the Mothership, led by a procession of the Dungeon-affiliated saints: Rico, Ray and Sleepy; Mr. DJ and Cutmaster Swiff; Gipp, Khujo, T-Mo and Cee Lo; Witchdoctor and Cool Breeze; Big Rube, Backbone, Killer Mike, and Meathead; First Lady Joi, Baby Momma Erykah, and Ms. Monáe's Wondaland Arts Society. Oh, and don't forget Peaches.

In the meantime, tour the world, get your paper, and cement your legacy as the international icons you've deservedly become. We'll be at home awaiting your second coming.

*In the event that a secret show is already planned for Atlanta that hasn't been divulged due to some contractual obligation barring such announcements, my bad shawty! By all means, please proceed. And take this as confirmation that you're doing the right thing.

Because, with all due respect, this isn't just 20 years of OutKast, it's 20 years of ATL. Not the spot on the map, but the sublime state of mind. Coming from a dude who never forgot about Dre or underestimated Big's stature, I sincerely hope this letter finds you both in the best of spirits.

Stank you in advance for your consideration.

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