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OutKast’s ‘Stankonia’ Album Was Inspired By London Clubgoers on Drugs

How the duo's 4x Platinum album was crafted to please kids using ecstasy who loved to dance.

OutKast recorded their GRAMMY-winning fourth studio album, Stankonia, at two Stateside studios—Stankonia Studios in Atlanta and A&M Studios in Los Angeles—but the initial inspiration behind the soundscape for the highest-rated album of their esteemed career actually came during a clubbing experience across the pond.

On October 22, 2000, nine days before the album's worldwide release, The Philadelphia Inquirer printed a story entitled, "Moving Away From Hip-Hop to Reinvent It, Outkast's Frustration With the Status Quo Gave Rise to Its Trailblazing 'Stankonia,'" for which music critic Tom Moon spoke with both André 3000 and Big Boi.

Although the article is not currently available online—apparently, The Philadelphia Inquirer is still operating in the year 2000—below is a portion of the text, which quotes André 3000 expressing the duo's original influence for the LP and why that particular sound was so attractive.

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The first inspiration for Stankonia came from the London club scene. The duo had been checking clubs there between their own performances, and developed a taste for high-energy electronic dance music. "That stuff is amazing," Benjamin raves. "I mean, in terms of rhythm they're kicking [it] - I think the fast tempos come from the different type of drugs out there today. Kids using Ecstasy, their spirits are up, they want to move. . . . Things are moving fast, and the music becomes a reflection of that." He and Patton messed around with all kinds of techno beats, and eventually settled on jungle. "We didn't want to make a jungle record - I don't think America would connect too well with straight jungle. But we had that beat, and we just used that and tried to come up with lyric ideas around it."

So basically, André admitted that the duo's 4x Platinum album was specially crafted to appeal to club-going druggies who enjoyed dancing to songs with an elevated BPM (beats per minute) count. Genius.

Like any good businessmen, André and Big did market research ("Look at all of these people doing drugs and dancing to fast music!") and made a calculated decision to broaden their sonic range. And it worked—Stankonia received nearly universal acclaim upon its release. 

While longtime OutKast collaborators Organized Noize contributed a handful of records to Stankonia, the album's primary producer was ON member Rico Wade's first cousin, David Sheats, aka Mr. DJ, who along with André and Big made up Earthtone III. Sheats, using his experience crafting Stankonia, helped Common to produce his EDM-tinged 2008 album, Universal Mind Control, which earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Album the following year.



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