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Dungeon Family tree

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

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Big Boi: Bobby Brown came to see our show. He was drunk as hell and telling us his studio, Bosstown, was for sale. He was like, "Really, y'all can have the studio. I'd rather y'all have it than someone else get it." But it came up that the IRS had it for sale; we bought it from them and just revamped it. That was the studio where we recorded the first album, so there's a lot of good vibes in there.

Andre: Before there was any lyric or hook on "Bombs Over Baghdad," we knew it was going to be the first single. Just that tempo alone, we knew that this go around, we just want to be in the business of blowing people's minds. I'm always with stretching it, so when this song came out, it had guitar solos and everything. Even the record company was like, "I don't know if radio's going to play it." They actually told us to take the guitar out, and I was really mad about that.

Big Boi: We'd be in the studio, and then go to the strip club afterward. So instead of going back and forth, I figured if we put the [stripper's] pole in the Boom Boom Room [Big Boi's den/home studio], that could inspire some more shit. So I put the pole over there. Soon as a chick walks in, they want to get on it just to show they can set that bitch off.

Mr. DJ: Big is more of the street-savvy rapper. And Dre is more of the ghetto-poetic one. But when we're in the studio, you wouldn't even think there were lines between them. They think the same creatively. The differences come in their personal lives.

2001: the entire crew comes together to work on a long-planned Dungeon Family record.

November 2001: Even in Darkness comes out on Arista, which also releases an OutKast anthology, Big Boi and Dre Present ... OutKast the same month.

Big Rube: We had been wanting to do a family record since the beginning, but something inspired Big Boi to want to do it -- and he had some power with L.A. [Reid]. I was kind of apprehensive to be on Arista, but it had to go there because the most powerful group, OutKast, was on Arista. Everybody who had tracks to submit, we all listened to them. And everybody who wanted to get on those tracks got on them. That's how we did it at first.

Rico: Certain tracks we had a concept, like, "Man, it would be great if we could get Andre and Cee-Lo, or we can get Khujo and T-Mo to do a song together, like the old Lumberjacks group." "Six Minutes" went down just how it was supposed to; it was a dream. Ray did a hot beat; Big came over, he busted. Big had the hook idea, Sleepy stacked the hook. Gipp wanted to come next; he wrote a verse, and everybody else came up behind.

Big Rube: We're in a meeting at the Dungeon, upstairs. The whole DF. L.A. [Reid] is on speakerphone. Everything's sounding great, like it always does in those initial meetings. Everybody's going to get an equal split of the budget money. But then Arista was like, "We're going to pay our artists [OutKast, Goodie Mob] more." Which is completely negating the whole thing -- DF was supposed to come before what label you're on. The whole point was to bring the guys who were in a slump out of it. So then you got one guy who might get $5,000 and the motherfuckers that were already rich getting $50,000 to $100,000.

Ray: It was almost like a return to the old days, but it didn't really get to fruition. There was so much politics. It just didn't get no support from Arista. As soon as the OutKast album [Big Boi and Dre Present ... OutKast] dropped, you don't hear shit about the Dungeon Family record. Nothing.

Big Rube: We did a promo tour. We start hitting a couple of cities. We're thinking, "OK, if this starts taking off, we can do a real Dungeon Family tour; it would be like we always wanted." But, you know, there's a lot of different attitudes by now. This isn't nine years ago. On the road, we had Dungeon Family posters. But they'll have even bigger [Big Boi and Dre Present] posters. I'm not saying it's OutKast's fault, but it ain't like they put up no major fight either.

Cee-Lo: The album was long overdue. I'm not certain the world was waiting on the Dungeon Family album after all that time. OutKast was in the midst of doing their greatest hits album, and I was working on my solo album at the time. So we were juggling, trying to make it all happen -- and it wasn't as organic as it should have been.

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