Coachella 2014: OutKast Bring Out Janelle Monae & Future For Reunion Set: Watch
“OutKast, 20 years,” Big Boi laughed.
On April 11, Coachella spectators watched the reunited OutKast perform for the first time in a decade. The starting half of its career-spanning set made it easy to see why the duo had been sorely missed, with songs and showmanship more than worthy of its headlining slot. During the latter half, though, a few missteps made it clear that, indeed, Big Boi and partner-in-rhyme Andre 3000 hadn’t performed together in years – and have a few kinks to work out for the rest of its 40-plus festival tour.
(Jump to 37:00 for Janelle Monae’s cameo, then 1:04:00 for Future’s mini-set.)
OutKast kicked off its set with hits that, at the time of their release, helped build momentum for the multi-platinum success to come: “B.o.B.” and “Gasoline Dreams” off 2000’s Stankonia, the title track off 1996’s ATLiens, a string of crucial songs from 1998’s Aquemini. The duo even rapped these songs while walking laps around a kitchen table, recreating an exercise that they’d do at Big Boi’s aunt’s house to stay in shape. (Side note: Later, OutKast rapped next to street signs for Headland and Delowe, the Atlanta intersection where they met Rico Wade of production trio Organized Noize for the first time.)
Once OutKast dove into the latter half of its discography though, namely 2004’s double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the night’s momentum began to slow down with overlong solo sets. Big Boi was confident as he jetted through his own hits and brought out Janelle Monae for her own career-launching “Tightrope,” as he has in solo tours over the past few years. Meanwhile, Andre 3000 became visibly nervous as he ran through ambient songs from The Love Below, to the point where he turned his back to the crowd as Miles Davis used to for “Hey Ya!” By the set’s end, Dre sounded shaken. (Watch their set above.)
“I know it’s kind of weird, 20 years later and shit, but thank y’all for coming,” he said. As Andre’s behavior emphasized, the expectations surrounding OutKast’s reunion were high. Big Boi would point out that Prince, Puff Daddy and Tyler, the Creator were in attendance.
The main issue in its Coachella set was how time was spent; while Dungeon Family descendant Future does have one of the most anticipated rap records of 2014 (Honest, out April 22), he performed three songs total, including a premiere of Honest‘s “Benz Friends (Whatchutola),” featuring Andre 3000 himself. Future performed two songs too many, a mistake that was felt when Killer Mike got on stage to help perform “The Whole World” – and that opportunity, along with OutKast’s set, was squashed because they “ran out of time.”
As Questlove pointed out on Twitter, though, issues like that can be fixed. Meanwhile, OutKast still proved that it’s responsible for some of the most enduring hip-hop (and, yes, pop) hits over the past 20 years and, at a age once considered fit for hip-hop retirement, got the surprising ability to still do those songs justice.
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