Cover image for Big Boi Stays Handsome With a Strong Back

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Big Boi Stays Handsome With a Strong Back

Was 1996 the greatest year for hip-hop records? All Eyez on Me, The Score, Reasonable Doubt, Ironman, Hard Core, and Beats, Rhymes and Life — all classics of the rap canon.

But they all came from the homeworld. Meanwhile…

“GREETINGS, EARTHLINGS,” drones the metallic lead-in to Outkast’s first great work of science funktion, ATLiens, an embrace of the otherness foisted upon Big Boi and André 3000 one year earlier at the Source Awards. Under the coastal hegemony of Death Row and Bad Boy, Atlanta was extraterrestrial; OTP didn’t mean Decatur as much as “Off This Planet.”

But the boys were unbothered, and for boom-bappers and backpackers alike, their ’96 sophomore LP was a close encounter of the crumblin’ erb kind.

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