I think I've made the case before that Outkast is the greatest hip-hop group ever, and certainly the greatest of their time. I don't think there's anything like the run that extends out from Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to ATLiens, through Aquemini, Stankonia and ends with Speakerboxx/The Love Below. I don't just mean in quality of art (which is high) but in the attempt to say something really different each time. I used to say that if my son asked me what it was like to be a black male in the late '80s/early '90s I would have handed him Illmatic. But if you asked what it was like to black during at the turn of the millennium, I would give him the collected Outkast.
I was recently talking with some friends about the ever-, and often, present "Black Nerd" pieces that pop up in the media now and again. I always find these pieces rather disappointing in their rendering of black communities, and generally find nerdism to be a distortive lens to understand black people who, say, happen to be into Star Trek. Historically, there's so little social space in the black community. On the one hand, if you find yourself alienated from the rituals and mores, I imagine the alienation must be really intense. I would argue that the products of that alienation are well represented in the the conversation.
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