Outkast in Atlanta

ARTS

Outkast represents Atlanta. 20 years ago, the duo made a conscious decision to, as Andre 300 says, put the city on their backs: “The best way to represent the places where you from is be yourself, completely. And just say, ‘I’m from this place.'” (NPR)

Use this “Picture of Practice” video to see how one teacher uses media to generate discussion and self-awareness about cultural identity.

Andre 3000, left, and Big Boi, are Atlanta's most visible hip-hop icons—Outkast. Photograph by Sven Mandel, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Andre 3000, left, and Big Boi, are Atlanta’s most visible hip-hop icons—Outkast.
Photograph by Sven Mandel, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Discussion Ideas

  • Killer Mike, an Atlanta-based rapper, says that the cultural identity of Atlanta includes church, partying, and even “avant-garde thinking”—and that Outkast’s work reflects all of that. (The group’s second album is even titled ATliens, playing on Atlanta’s acronym—ATL.) Read through our short profile of dancer and choreographer Kyle Abraham. (Do yourself a favor and watch the videos in our resource carousel, too!) Does he incorporate a similar “sense of place” in his work? How?
    • Yes, absolutely. Abraham grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the city’s cultural identity has influenced his work ever since. In particular, Abraham is fascinated by Pittsburgh’s dual identities as both a working-class city (part of the Rust Belt) and a center of experimental art. “When you think of visual artists and musicians from Pittsburgh, like Andy Warhol for example, you see this industrial life mixed in with something almost upper-class. You see a blending of worlds in their work, and I think in mine, too. It’s like an elegant blue collar work. I’m really trying to blend cultural perspectives—chuck them all in a melting pot.”

 

  • Abraham says “Culture is constructed. You can be raised in one community but have a culture rooted in a whole host of communities.” That seems to reflect what native upstate New Yorker and University of Georgia Professor Bettina Love says about her appreciation for Outkast: “There’s some things that they’re saying that you have no clue of, as a Northern kid, but you know that experience. So this fish and grits and all of these things that I’ve heard my grandmother say, I’ve heard my mother say, my father say. You talk about the black migration—many of our parents came from the South, migrated to the North, so they still told these stories.”
    • What far-away communities make up your culture?
      • Your national heritage or immigration history?
      • Your religion?
      • Your appreciation for a sports team, college, or style of art/music?
      • Your language?
      • Your economic background?

 

  • Andre 3000 says “The best way to represent the places where you from is be yourself, completely. And just say, ‘I’m from this place.'” How is that attitude a variation of Nat Geo’s definition of cultural identity—”the way a person views themselves in relation to the learned characteristics and behaviors of a group or community”?
    • Andre is focusing on how individual characteristics make up a community, while our definition focuses on how community characteristics help define an individual. (They’re both right!)
    • How has your own individual identity contributed to the culture of your family, circle of friends, or classroom?
    • How have different community identities (of sports teams, classrooms, church groups, family) contributed to how you view your own place in the world?

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

NPR “the record” blog: Outkast And Atlanta: Until They Close The Curtain

NG Picture of Practice video: Understanding Self Through Media

NG article: Choreographer and Dancer: Kyle Abraham

NG glossary:

cultural identity

avant garde

One response to “Outkast in Atlanta

  1. Pingback: Surfing Hawaiian Culture | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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