Outkast isn't reuniting—deal with it

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Its a remix
  • It's a remix
Last weekend Atlanta rapper and Outkast member Big Boi posted a remix of Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter" on his Soundcloud page. The track first appeared on the R&B crooner's excellent Channel Orange, and the original includes a contribution from Big Boi's beloved old rap buddy, Andre 3000; the two haven't made a proper Outkast album since 2006's Idlewild soundtrack. And because both members of Outkast appear on Big Boi's "Pink Matter" remix, many folks cast it as a kinda-sorta Outkast reunion, much to Andre's chagrin.

Yesterday Andre took a break from doing his "Gillette shit" to talk with Spin magazine and clear the air about the "Pink Matter" remix as well as his involvement in a reworked version of a recent T.I. track that Andre appears on called "Sorry." As he told Spin, his contributions to those tracks were as a solo artist and there was no talk of them being part of some Outkast project:

I never want to mislead our audience—I worried that some would think these were Outkast collaborations. These songs are not Outkast collaborations. I discussed this rationale with Big, Frank and T.I. and everyone agreed. That is why I was surprised to read about these remixes.

It's quite obvious that the new "Pink Matter" isn't an Outkast reunion; if the word "remix" on the Soundcloud art for the track wasn't a dead giveaway, then hearing Big Boi clearly say "remix" a couple seconds into the song should've dispelled any idea that he had intentionally collaborated with Andre. It was also fairly clear that the attempts to spin the remix as a sign that the duo is making music again was awkward at best and delusional at worst. And yet those SEO-grabbing headlines about Outkast reuniting said less about the reality of the situation and more about a wave of wishful thinking so powerful that Benjamin felt the need to issue a statement about it.

In an age when band reunions are not only accepted, but expected, it sometimes feels like disbanded or dormant musical acts are increasingly expected to become subservient to the demands of the public, regardless of whatever creative whims—or lack thereof—would keep things quiet. Considering the amount of money thrown at musicians to reunite with the old bands their fans love so much (remember when Morrissey reportedly turned down $75 million to do a Smiths reunion?) it's easy to imagine that groups that are as popular as Outkast can command the kind of massive-reunion-payout offers that would have many people salivating.

With plenty of musicians regrouping with old band-members despite whatever personal conflicts appear to persist, it's really easy to give in to whatever wishful thinking one may have about a band reuniting. No wonder Andre felt the need to correct people about Big Boi's "Pink Matter" remix, an act that also speaks volumes about the rapper's approach to his music. Not only did he express a need to be straightforward with his fans about his work, but he appears to be quite thoughtful about the music he's involved in, making his desire for whatever work he's involved with purely a creative one (or it at least appears that way).

It's nice to know Andre cares that much about his music, which gives me hope for whatever future work he may or may not do, Gillette ads be damned. Still, all the hubbub over the non-Outkast reunion reminds me of Andre's first line in "Pink Matter," which says a lot about how people feel about the rapper and his old group: "Since you've been gone I've been having withdrawals."

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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