1994 was an incredible year for hip-hop, and particularly its new blood. It brought us debuts from Nas and The Notorious B.I.G., as well as new discs from the likes of the Roots and Gang Starr. It was also the year that Outkast put themselves and on the map, and helped shine a brighter light on their native Atlanta.
With their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, the duo of Andre and Big Boi ‒ just 18 and 19, respectively ‒ laid a groundwork for what would become a legendary career.
Today, that seminal debut turns 20. Full of smoked-out funk and rhymes that balance pimp-talk and self-awareness, we take a look at the disc by the numbers.
31: Letters in the Album Title
According to Oxford, the longest word in the dictionary has 45 letters. Though it’s not quite as long, and not in the dictionary (though let’s be real, it should be), the album’s title comes close, with a whopping 31 letters. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik definitely rolls off the tongue better than pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis, too.
17: Verses from Both Andre and Big Boi
The two fresh-faced MCs struck a perfect balance on their debut, as they each rapped the same number of verses. It averages out to one per song on the 17-track release, though some had more (two each on “Player’s Ball”) and some less (none on “Funky Ride”).
20: Peak Position on Billboard 200
With the five albums that followed their debut, Outkast always reached at least No. 2 on the Billboard 200. However, with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, the duo couldn’t climb higher than the 20th spot. Still, the disc was certified gold two months after release, and hit platinum just under a year after it dropped.
1: Producer on the Album
They would later branch out to work with other beatmakers and produce for themselves, but for their first album, ’Kast worked with only one producer (or, group of producers). Organized Noize, a production outfit consisting of Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown, produced the entirety of the album.
3: Singles That Charted on Billboard
Showing early signs as not only hip-hop hitmakers, but also artists with crossover potential, Outkast had three singles land on the Billboard charts from their debut. Their lead single, “Player’s Ball,” topped the Hot Rap Songs chart, while “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” and “Git Up, Git Out” also made appearances.
1: Video Directed by Diddy
L.A. Reid commissioned an up and coming Puff Daddy, who at the time was working for Arista, which was the parent company of LaFace, which released Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, to direct the video for “Player’s Ball.” Puff and the ’Kast guys didn’t know each other, but they linked to create a video that captures the vibe of the ATL scene that the song describes.
12: Distinct A-Town Shoutouts
From slang terms for the city to shouts to its specific neighborhoods, ’Kast put you on to their home in plenty of ways: Atlanta, ATL, A-Town, Lakewood, Wood, The Point, East Point, Southwest Atlanta, Chappell Forest, Decatur, DeVry and College Park.
15: Mentions of Cadillacs
Car culture is a crucial part of life in the South. Plus, since they comprised part of the album title, it makes sense that Cadillacs would be mentioned on the Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. And they were. A bunch of times. From “Cadillac” to “’Lac” to “Deville” to “Seville,” the G.M. made car got tons of love on the album.
11: Shoutouts to “The Dungeon”
Much of the album was recorded in Rico Wade’s basement. The crew had a nickname for the spot ‒ the Dungeon ‒ and shouted it out throughout their debut. Many of those lines found Big Boi talking about spending time at the Dungeon, smoking, and enjoying himself: “I hang with Rico Wade ’cause the Dungeon is where the funk’s at,” he raps on “Git Up, Git Out.”