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Clip: Outkast Casts Wide Net with Album, Movie

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  • Carl Z.
    Outkast Casts Wide Net with Album, Movie By REUTERS Published: July 14, 2006 NEW YORK
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 15, 2006

      Outkast Casts Wide Net with Album, Movie

      By REUTERS
      Published: July 14, 2006

      NEW YORK (Billboard) - OutKast duo Antwan Patton and Andre Benjamin
      are sitting in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills
      picking at pancakes. They need to figure out the track listing for
      their upcoming soundtrack album, the companion to the film
      ``Idlewild,'' in which they co-star.

      Zomba Label Group president/CEO Barry Weiss, pen in hand, writes out
      different scenarios. Patton keeps picking at his breakfast. Weiss
      leans back on the couch and says with a laugh, ''We need to figure
      this out! We need this album to be done!'' Patton and Benjamin smile.
      ``We know,'' Patton says. ``We're getting there.''

      Patton, aka ``Big Boi,'' and Benjamin, aka ``Andre 3000,'' are
      perfectionists as much as they are innovators. ``Idlewild'' would have
      been released to theaters last year -- if the music had been done.

      Now, after numerous postponements, OutKast is ready -- sort of. They
      still keep going back in the studio to ``tweak'' some tracks. But come
      hell or high water, the LaFace/Zomba album will be released August 22,
      with the film hitting theaters three days later.

      ``This is probably the first musical that didn't have the music done
      before it was shot,'' Benjamin says. ``That has been the biggest
      lesson I've learned in this whole thing. Next time, we'll do the music


      To do a film/album package has been a longtime dream for OutKast.
      ``Idlewild'' (Universal/HBO), directed by OutKast's friend and video
      director Bryan Barber, has been in the works since the group's 1998
      album ``Aquemini.''

      ``We had a movie called 'Aquemini' (in development) with Bryan,''
      Patton recalls. ``It was crazy. We were so excited, but we had no idea
      what it took to put it all together.''

      Benjamin says with a laugh, ``We didn't know it takes two years to put
      a movie out, and we had a script three months before 'Aquemini' came

      Also at that time, OutKast, though critically acclaimed, hadn't yet
      broken through with multiplatinum ``Stankonia''and ``Speakerboxxx/The
      Love Below'' (2003).

      ``We made a lot of progress since 'Aquemini,''' Benjamin says. ``We
      were young. We were trying to put all of our friends in the movie!''

      The duo had meetings with MTV, who Benjamin says loved the film idea
      for ``Aquemini.'' But the network wanted to buy the project and cast
      Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes, who had more star power than OutKast.

      ``We're like, 'But this is our movie!''' Benjamin says. ``So, it
      didn't work out. You have to have some appeal to get people in the
      theater, and we weren't big enough at the time, so I can understand
      why MTV would say that.''

      Patton sighs. ``We were heartbroken.''


      Not to be deterred, OutKast and Barber kept working on ideas, and
      ``Idlewild'' was born.

      The film is set in Prohibition-era Georgia and follows two childhood
      friends and the business of running a speakeasy.

      ``The characters are loosely based on our personalities,'' Patton says.

      Benjamin concurs. ``The characters are an extreme version of what we are.''

      There is a lifelong bond between the two main film characters even
      though they don't spend every second together. In fact, there are only
      three or four scenes that feature them together. The same is true in
      real life: Patton and Benjamin often record separately. Patton goes on
      tour, and Benjamin no longer does.

      ``It's not like 'Beverly Hills Cop' or 'Rush Hour' where it's a buddy
      type of thing,'' Patton says.

      It's also not a traditional musical. Benjamin and Patton do not
      spontaneously break into song. The songs are used in performance
      settings or as background music.

      During the film's production, the duo would hit the studio after a day
      of filming to write music for a scene. Then, of course, they would
      change their minds and rewrite it. The bulk of the writing happened
      after the film wrapped, when they could just be OutKast, instead of
      Patton and Benjamin, the actors.

      ``We went into the studio and did what we normally do,'' Patton says.
      ``But we kept in mind that it was a 1930s movie. We tried to keep
      ourselves hip and fresh, but at the same time keep that 1930s frame
      musically, so it all fit together.''

      For example, the first single, ``Mighty O,'' is a take on Cab
      Calloway's famous scatting from the 1932 recording ``Minnie the


      In the three years since ``Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,'' both artists
      have been busy with side projects. Benjamin has been honing his acting
      chops, including a starring role in last year's ``Four Brothers.''
      Patton runs his own record label, owns a real estate company and
      markets an energy drink, Kryptonite.

      Both Patton and Benjamin have wanted to do solo projects. Fans have
      long noticed the duo veering in different musical directions, most
      noticeably with the double album ''Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.''
      ``Speakerboxxx'' was Patton's album and ``The Love Below'' was

      But one of the biggest misconceptions is that the pair never record
      together. Just thinking about all the rumors floating around on the
      Internet and in the tabloids makes Benjamin shake his head in disgust.
      ``People say we are never in the studio together, and that's just not

      The duo are simply untraditional because they both have home studios.

      ``It's like working your hut,'' Benjamin says. ``I produce a song,
      then take it to Big Boi and say, 'Check this out, what do you think
      about this?' Sometimes you want to at least get the idea out and not
      have to worry about if it's good enough. It's more like a confidence
      thing ... I just think people have blown it out of proportion about us
      not being on a song together just because we're not singing or

      Even though they may go in different directions musically, Patton and
      Benjamin, who attended the same high school in Atlanta, are friends
      'til death do them part.

      ``We've been friends since we were in 10th grade. At the end of the
      day with no records, no movies, no nothing -- we are friends, we are
      homeboys,'' Benjamin says. ``I know I'm going to know this man until
      I'm pretty much out of here. I know his kids, he knows my kids. We all
      hang out together. We're talking about Antwon and Andre. That is
      something that was born, not out of music, but from hanging out in
      high school. We just decided to do music one day. We weren't two guys
      that a record company put together.''

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