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Dungeon Family tree

An oral history of OutKast and the extended crew's first decade

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Sleepy: Ray had a beat that I thought was incredible. He said, "It would be fly if we could find somebody to sing it kind of like Curtis." I was like, "I can do that." It was like 5 in the morning, and I just went in there and did it. After, I was like, "That's kind of funky, I may need to mess with that a little more." I was just trying to sing like what Curtis Mayfield would've sung.

Andre: Puffy [Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy] was the new flavor man at Arista [LaFace's parent company]. He loved "Player's Ball" and wanted to direct the video. So he comes down to shoot the video with Rico. And Puffy was the first person who brought us out of Atlanta to a show at Howard University, opening for Biggie. Then the video comes out and people are loving the song, so L.A. was like, "You have to record an album."

April 1994: OutKast debuts with the acclaimed, platinum-selling Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.

Rico: We knew 'Kast was good enough. They could rap. But we knew we had to flip the beats. We couldn't let them rap over the same New York beats or L.A. beats, we had to come with something new. That's why we called the first album Southernplaya-listicadillacmuzik: We had to get into who we were.

Ray: Down-South music had always been fast. We slowed it down to make you listen to the MC, make the MCs be rapid fire. And that was OutKast.

Andre: It was a family event. You had Goodie Mob on there, pretty much every one who came through the Dungeon. If you had something to say, you did it. On "Git Up, Git Out," Cee-Lo came and laid the verse and set the tone.

Big Rube: The first record left a bad taste in my mouth. You look at the first OutKast record, my name ain't nowhere on it. Not even for the shit that I said. Somebody just dropped the ball in terms of making sure everybody got credit. I never got any publishing [royalties], and it would've been a lot because basically me and Sleepy and Rico wrote all their hooks.

Big Boi: Our first taste of performing in front of an audience was the Howard University homecoming. That was my first ride on an airplane, and I was terrified. But I knew if this was my career, I had to get used to it. We weren't even old enough, but we was drinking. We came out and we performed and they clapped when we came off.

Andre: Freaknik was still around, so we made these snippet cassettes with dice and incense. We passed them out and everyone from all over the country came to town and went back home with our sounds.

Big Rube: The first OutKast album was like the whole energy and chi of the whole South. It represented all our asses. When OutKast came out, young kids had something to look up to that wasn't necessarily gangsta. Because The Chronic was like the bible of rap at the time, and people were associating the gangbang style with hip-hop. So it was like putting a fire extinguisher on a fire that was starting.

November 1995: The Dungeon Family's second album, Goodie Mob's Soul Food, is released and eventually goes gold (500,000 copies sold).

Ray: L.A. came to us and said, "What you guys got next?" And we said, "This is what we feel: Goodie Mob." We had never recorded any songs with all four of them together until they got their deal.

Cee-Lo: Goodie Mob as a collective was more or less the brainchild of Rico Wade. And me, Gipp, T and Khujo were all familiar with each other, so it was nothing to say, "Yeah, let's do an album together." The first Goodie Mob record was supposed to be a compilation of sorts, but we stumbled upon a magic of our own.

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