EWA100 - #90. Outkast - Elevators

90. Outkast - Elevators (Me And You) (LaFace/Arista. 1996. From the LP: ATLiens)

Mike Dikk: This was my favorite incarnation of Outkast. That would be the slightly-getting-weird-but-not-enough-to-scare-off-normal-people-who-aren’t-into-looking-at-dudes-in-booty-shorts-and-le g-warmers incarnation. Don’t get me wrong. I’m white enough to like all of Outkast’s singles up until that double CD disaster, but "Elevators" is the ultimate for me. It’s just so subtly fucking weird. The record was released around the same time Dr. Octagon spearheaded the Weird Rap movement (also known as trip-hop), and as much as I like the Dr. Octagon record, you can’t deny it’s weird for the sake of being weird, whereas Outkast were just naturally weird dudes who just happened to be friends with a naturally weird production team and they came together to make magic on this track.
To this day, I don’t know what the fuck the chorus is supposed to mean, but it’s one of my favorite choruses to sing for no god damn reason. Come to think of it, I don’t know what Outkast is rapping about 90% of the time, but it’s not what Outkast is rapping about on this track. (From what I gather, this song is about Outkasts’s experiences with their rising fame. That sort of explains the chorus, but not really.) It’s all about the beat. It’s like old Timbaland except not as stupid. There’s a dude giving out one of those half-laugh “Oh I’ll pretend to laugh as to not make you feel like an asshole for telling a really crappy joke” laughs sampled for chrissake. For no apparent reason except to trip you out while you’re high. The whole track sounds like that momentary euphoric feeling you get before you blackout after purposely taking too much cold medicine with the extra added bonus of two dudes with smooth southern drawls rhythmically talking over the whole thing. If I could, I’d have a chip impanted in my head that played this song anytime I drank Nyquil or Robitussin. You don’t even need to Chop and/or Screw this man. Just chill out and let Outkast’s Funkariffic Space Coaster glide you to sleep.

Raven Mack: Outkast is tricky territory, because it's the type of hip hop that those on the periphery of full-scale music dorkdom will proclaim the greatest hip hop group to ever breath on a mic. Dudes who used to be seminal members of some local group that inspired a couple much bigger bands who now are relegated to spinning obscure soul gospel songs on their community radio show, or grad college dudes who love Putamayo compilations and have already buffed a spot on their bumper for their Barack in '08 sticker, classic blue. And my initial response is to think about how much I loathe Outkast, but I don't really loathe Outkast, because they were awesome. But they are also the perfect example of how shitty Hip Hop the Business can ruin a great Hip Hop the Some Kids Who Love It. I mean, the changes in Andre 3000 are obvious, perhaps polluted by Badu-gasms like so many others, or perhaps he's just a weird bi-sexual kid with schizophrenic tendencies who happened to be born in the ghetto where those types don't automatically get coddled into adulthood. His half of the GROUND-BREAKING crap double CD is pure masturbatory shit, and the Weird Rap mention is right on, because I imagine of everybody who thinks The Love Below album is great, they'd probably say Kool Keith is their favorite MC ever. DUDE, IT'S AWESOME BECAUSE HE'S A NEGRO BUT HE'S ACTING CRAZY! Ironic hipster white people love the idea of an MC Wesley Willis, and Andre 3000 is the closest they've gotten on a mainstream level thus far.
But Big Boi has been turned out by this industry as well. He sort of mails in sub-par southern verses pretty regularly, and there's no reason on fuckin' earth that either the ATL movie or the Idlewild one should not be next to ones for the new E-40 movie and Big Black Butt Orgy Vol. 3 in the back pages of Murder Dog, other than it's Outkast - a proven brand name - so it gets put in major release.
But I digress. For me, the Outkast relativity to awesome scale is relates directly to how early the release was. First album - awesome. Second one, which this comes from - pretty awesome as well, and starting to dabble in oddball shit, but not so over-the-top it makes you afraid Mohammad might throw you off the mountain for listening to it too much. And the further away you get, the worse it gets. I have Stankonia on vinyl, and always forget to sell it because it's gradually worked it's way from the center of the stack to the far edges (the habit being to push things over from the middle and put shit back in at the center, so the further towards the edge you get, the less likely it is it's seen rotation on my turntable in years), but every once in a while, I get tricked by somebody talking about it into thinking, "Hey, maybe I just never gave that album the right listen." So I'll pull it out, dust it off, and play it... and it'll suck like always.
So yeah, this song, and this album, is probably that Polaroid perfect glimpse into the madness, and it would've been nice if they could've just been into weird fake alien shit forever, but then Andre turned into a college student who really loves thrift stores and Big Boi turned into his roommate and cousin who will always hang tight with him because Andre ain't all there and Big Boi promised Andre's aunt that he'd look after him. In fact, that's often how I imagine Outkast's success being, that Andre has family that's almost certain he's gay, but Big Boi hangs out to keep an eye on him and push women on him, and this keeps Andre from being openly gay because he knows it'll break his family's heart for their famous boy to be a punk, so they just tool along, until I guess one day Big Boi might die and then Andre will be kicking it in fashion mags in France and shit.
Also, you know how on that one skit on the first Wu-Tang tape, Method Man and Raekwon are trying to outdo fucked-up torture scenarios to each other? I often imagine that back during the "Elevators" days, Dre and Ceelo and probably Big Gipp too would all be sitting around trying to out-flamboyant each other, but all in jest.

Download: Outkast - Elevators

It's too much to ask YouTube to have the proper video, so instead you get the song set to someones helicopter ride over Guatemala. Yeah.