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The Making of OutKast's Aquemini

Andre 3000, Big Boi and cast look back on a classic



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"West Savannah" feat. Sleepy Brown

Produced by Organized Noize

Originally recorded for OutKast debut, "West Savannah" drips with Organized Noize's snappy-nappy funk and a youthful-sounding Big Boi giving listeners a too-grown-for-his-own-good guided tour through his native Savannah stomping grounds.

Big Boi: A lot of times when we record, we over record. Dre also had a song called "Bow Your Head." It was the counterpart to "West Savannah," so with different albums we might throw like a bonus in there for the listeners, to give them something that's nostalgic of the times and Dre said, "We need to throw that 'West Savannah' on the record." So I was like, "Shit, let's do it." And you know that's my hometown. I'm from Savannah, Ga. and there's a lot of people there that I love and my family is there, so I'm all about it.

Andre 3000: Sometimes songs are done ahead of their time. It was done during Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Some songs sit, like "Hey Ya" was done three years before it came out.

"Da Art of Storytellin' Part 1 feat. Sleepy Brown

Produced by David "Mr. DJ" Sheats

A hypnotizing sample sends 'Kast spinning yarns - as wildly divergent as their own tastes - about Suzie Screw (Big's juicy, oversexed groupie) and Sasha Thumper (Dre's tragic childhood crush)

Andre 3000: Every story that I've ever told is either triggered by something that I've been through or something that someone I know has experienced. So a lot of times, it's based on something real.

When me and Erykah [Badu] were still together, one of Erykah's friends in Dallas had a young daughter who was real intelligent. She was in school one day and the teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and the answer she gave was, "alive." I always thought that was so cool so I wove it into the story I was telling.

Mr. DJ: The song started out with a sample of a lady just saying 'No, no, no, no.' And I put it on a 16-bar thing and changed the tone of it, and it just had this weird feeling to it. Everybody who walked in the [studio] that day was like 'Man, what is that?' It just made you feel a certain kind of way.

Preston Crump: I remember when [Mr. DJ] Sheats started doing beats. He was the DJ for OutKast at first, then he decided he wanted to start making beats. [Rico and Ray] were laughing at him at first because of the beats he used to bring back. He had a different swing to his beats; they were a little more stiff but they still hit.

I can't remember how that bass line came about but I just played it like a chord. After that whenever we'd do a song, Mr. DJ would be like, 'Yeah put some of them chords in there. [laughs] I'd say, you know them chords ain't gonna work on everything.

Mr. DJ I think Sleepy Brown came up with the hook for it first and then I did another beat, Da Art of Storytellin' (Part 2).' And those two beats are the difference in day and night.

"Da Art of Storytellin' (Part 2)"

Produced by David "Mr. DJ" Sheats

A distorted track, apocalyptic visions, and IFOs "landing in Decatur" compel Big and Dre to make haste to the Dungeon in a last-ditch attempt to make "Mama Earth" one last love song.

Mr. DJ: The Dungeon was Rico's house, and that was kinda like our headquarters. That was where we all met and where we would hang out and stuff. So Dre was thinking, 'What if it was the end of the world and we all needed to meet at the Dungeon?' Like we were all taking our families and going to the Dungeon and meeting up to fight off this New World Order thing. Goodie Mob's albums were talking about New World Order and that type thing, so it was kinda touching on that.

Andre 3000: I do remember thinking, "What if it was the end of the world and we had to get to the Dungeon on some X-Men superhero shit. I think I was vibing on some end-of-the-world, last-recorded-song shit. Like I always wonder what's the last song recorded in the world going to sound like?

Mr. DJ If you listen to the verses, that's mostly what it's talking about. And the reason we even started talking about that was because that track sounded so combative. It just gave you that whole vibe. When we did music and came up with songs, the titles of songs and the subject matter came from whatever feeling the beat gave you.

Nowadays people just do music to catch somebody's ear. To me that's part of the reason why music today is not as heartfelt and not as deep, because it's starting with a beat that your heart hasn't been put into. So therefore that beat is not gonna pull out that meaningful stuff and those different subjects. You almost can't fault the artists these days for what they write and what they say, because the music that they are influenced by and that they write to is not medidative music. It's not music that will make you feel that kind of way. That's how our music was made, and that's why its as timeless as it is.

Andre 3000: The new generation, they talk about [ATLiens in the sense of them] being from outer space. But we were for real. I wasn't talking about myself. We knew somebody had to be out here in the universe other than just us. So when I talked about IFOs "landing in Decatur," I knew some folks had already seen that shit: identified flying objects.

"Mamacita" feat. Masada, Witchdoctor

Produced by Organized Noize

If every classic album has one track that seems to come out of left field, "Mamacita" is Aquemini's. Produced by Ray Murray and Rico Wade, the beat bangs without question. But at the time it simply left fans wondering: Who is the crunk "mamacita" with the New York accent rhyming with Dre, Big and Witchdoctor?

Rico Wade: We had about three different girls that we worked with as rappers throughout our career and none of them really made it out of the Dungeon. They all got stuck in the goddamn walls. But Masada got a chance because she was talented. We were working with her and Dana in a rap group. Me and Ray met them at a freestyle battle.

Masada: I met Rico back in '96 in a club called the Oxygen where I used to do open mic. We were cool, and shortly after I met him I wound up leaving Atlanta and going back to Jersey. I left because I was pregnant with my daughter. And after I had my daughter, Rico ended up running into my girlfriend Dana in the club and he told her to tell me to call. So when I called him he said, 'Masada come down,' and he flew my daughter and I down. When we got to town, we dropped my daughter off with his mother and went to the studio. And when we got in the studio he kept teasing me saying, 'Mamacita.'

Rico Wade: I just had the beat playing and I know my vibe came from fucking with Masada, 'cause she's so New York. She's from Jersey but when she talks it's just so New York chick. So I was just fucking with her like, 'Mama-cita.' And she came right back: 'Papa-donna.' I said: 'Let's go put that shit down right now.'

We put the hook down right then, she busted the first verse, then Dre came in and heard her rapping on it. It was a project we were working on for Masada and Dana's side project, Mahogany. But he came in the Dungeon and heard the beat and just made it a song.

Andre 3000: It was a groovy kinda thing. Just going back and forth on male/female [relationships]. I had a girlfriend that kinda went that way [lesbian] at one point in time. I was like, 'What the fuck is this?' So I think I was just being affected by it and it ended up coming out in my verse.

Masada: I called Rico a month later just to check on him. And he said, "Masada what's up, you need to come get paid, you know you're on the OutKast album?" And I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah, you're on the album. They ended up putting you on the album." I was very surprised.

"SpottieOttieDopalicious" feat. Sleepy Brown

Produced by OutKast for Earthtone

Redemptive tales from the 'hood, spit over Earth, Wind & Fire horns and Curtis Mayfield guitar chords. Part blaxploitation theme song, part Black Poets' anthem - all the way pimped out.

Neal H. Pogue: I remember one day coming to the studio and Andre brought me the reels and said, 'Yo I got this song for you to mix.' I didn't know what it was, and when he put it up my first thought was like, wow. It was so different.

Andre 3000: The song started with a sample I'd chopped up. I was vibing on reggae stuff at the time, listening to a lot of Bob Marley. Preston's a groove monster. He will sit on a groove and stay there. I knew he would pull it off in a funky way.

Preston Crump: Dre wanted us to give it a reggae feel. I think that's another bass line that I wasn't told what to play. That was one of my favorites. When I heard what Sleepy sang on it, I couldn't stop giving him dap. When I heard what Sleepy sang on it, I couldn't stop giving him dap. I was like, "Man, you ain't do another verse?" But I guess that one was so good, you didn't need another one.

Andre 3000: Iceberg Slim used to put out albums talking on beats and I was like, "This is cool." I think I laid down my verse first and Big just came in. But instead of spoken word, Big likes to call it "smokin' word." That was his smokin' word.

Mr. DJ: Hornz [Unlimited] did the horns. The lyrics came from one day when we were reminiscing about old times. Charles Disco [on Simpson Road] was one of those places we used to hang out. We used to sneak in. It was just interesting to see how Dre related back to that and that whole story. But that was kinda how a lot of the songs got started, just from conversations about things that we'd done.

Andre 3000: Me and Big Boi were in high school when we started going and getting drunk. This is how the night happened for real: I was so drunk I didn't make into Charles. So all the stuff I said after that was made up. But I remember saying to Big Boi, I'm so drunk I cannot leave this van. That's the real story.

Omar Phillips: The southwest side of ATL at that time just had an aura to it that people warmed up to. Quiet as it's kept, a lot of people don't realize that music was basically born and created on that side of town - everything from going to Club 731 at two in the morning and listening to those R&B bands to just a culmination of things that made that area heated, in a great way. You couldn't keep people away from the SWATS (Southwest Atlanta) - thanks to Cool Breeze and Goodie Mob for putting it out there like that, it was the area to be a part of and to come out of.

Kawan Prather: I think that was the record where Outkast got their props as producers from Rico [Wade] and Ray [Murray] and Pat [Sleepy Brown].

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