How Sound Affects...(An ATLiens Post)

 

 

(Just for the sake of full disclosure...ATLiens by Outkast is my favorite Hip-Hop album ever. ATLiens, along with their next album Aquemini, I believe are the best pieces of art that Hip-Hop has to offer. I have spent nearly 20 years arguing with people online and in person about Outkast and ATLiens' standing in Hip-Hop. We can argue about that later. This post will mainly be about ATLiens' effect on me.) 

 

96 gon be that year...
— Antwon Patton

 

ATLiens changed my life. Released on August 27th, 1996, I did not know on that particular morning, that my life would be altered. I didn't know when I unwrapped the cassette and placed it into my walkman that my outlook on life, music and myself would change. A 16 year old boy, struggling with identity and confidence would be hurled 200mph into a whirlwind of freedom and self expression. 

I underwent a metamorphosis from, a nameless, faceless teen, spending countless amounts of money, time and energy trying to fit in, and buy the newest shoes, and hottest name brand clothes, to a literal outcast. I would come to school and see 3 different people wearing the same Ralph Lauren Polo shirt that I spent my entire check on, and wearing the same Grant Hill shoes and it was then that I discovered that I was just like everybody else...what I had tried so hard to be...and realized that I didn't WANT to be at all.

Outkast's debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik came out of left field to take Hip-Hop by storm. And when you were expecting more cadillac music to bounce to, ATLiens, came from outer space. Everything from the music, to the album art (which included a 24-page comic strip), to the disc art (the glorious naked woman which was the Outkast signature), to the videos...all stand collectively as an artistic and creative cohesive vision. At 16 years old I had never heard anything like "13th Floor/Growing Old". I had never heard music so organic and so gritty. So mysterious and hypnotizing. It spoke to my soul. It said think different, think free...and express yourself freely. With this as my soundtrack I had the courage to be free...be weird...be strong...be fearless...be different. Be me. And no longer was I just a nameless, faceless random student among 2,000 others in my school. I soon became the "different one". For better or for worse, nothing was the same after ATLiens came...  

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To this day, I've never smoked anything or taken any illegal drug and this verse is in large part why...

Softly, as if I played piano in the dark
Found a way to channel my anger now to embark
The world’s a stage and everybody’s got to play their part
God works in mysterious ways so when he starts
The job of speaking through us we be so sincere with this here
No drugs or alcohol so I can get the signal clear as day
Put my Glock away I got a stronger weapon
That never runs out of ammunition so I’m ready for war okay
— Andre Benjamin

Many music lovers have "that one album" that changed their thoughts, passions, self-esteem, interests, style of dress, etc. I've heard Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill brought up many times. Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest. 

For me...that "one album" was made by 2 Dope Boys in a Cadillac...

What was yours?

-n.g.