'Da Art of Storytellin': My Discovery Of The Real Outkast

'Da Art of Storytellin': My Discovery Of The Real Outkast

They are more than just a one hit wonder.

When I first found out about Outkast and their song 'Hey Ya!" in the early 2000s, it was one of the most exciting and well-remembered songs that I've ever come across. You'd know what I mean if (or when) you watch the music video on their YouTube VEVO channel, which currently has over 280 million views.

A full ensemble of Andre 3000's singing and dancing I thought were the norm for Atlanta hip-hop duo composed of Andre Benjamin and Antwonn Patton. Even in the music video of the hit song 'Roses,' Benjamin is seen playing multiple different characters, dancing and frolicking about and having himself a mighty good time expressing his fun side.

However, as I grew older, they started to grow apart from me. I started listening to older, New York-based hip-hop (A Tribe Called Quest, Fu Schnickens, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Big L, etc.) and started to dig more into my city's roots. My music playlist began to evolve into more story-telling-based lyrics rather than exciting, kick-down-a-door-while-drunk-in-your-dorm-room party lines. So, Outkast, for me, seemed outdated at the time.

Until I discovered the album "Aquemini."

Released in 1998, "Aquemini" was a concept album based solely on life itself, with many of the songs incorporating live instrumentation. It was a psychedelic 90s sound I've never heard before and was far different from the 2000s version of Outkast.

Almost every song choice had a specific story to tell. It was not the popular 90s New York hip-hop everyone was so accustomed to. It was a pure, Southern sound that made the storytelling of the album that much more compelling to listen to. The song that caught my attention the most was part one of "Da Art of Storytellin'."

Part one of "Da Art of Storytellin'" is lived through the eyes of Andre and Antwonn as they depict the struggles of two female fictional characters named Sasha Thumper' and Suzy Skrew. Suzy's story told by 'Big Boi' Antwonn as she is depicted as a prostitute looking to have sex with anyone in sight.

Antwonn, however, does not pay her with money, instead vying to give her a 'Lil Will CD' and a 'poster.' Prostitution is sometimes common in urban communities like Atlanta and Suzy is treated very harshly by Antwonn. Sasha Thumper's story, however, seems to be the most tragic of the two stories. Andre speaks of Sasha Thumper in a very kind light, remembering her "number like the summer."

Sasha changes Andre's life when she tells Andre that, more than anything, she wants to be "alive" in the future. Once Andre reaches fame, he looks for Sasha, but finds out through her mother that she was with a man "that be treating her wrong." Then, sadly, Sasha is found in the back of a school "with a needle in her arm, baby two months due" two weeks later.

I finally understood Outkast's purpose in rap: they reminded everyone that southern rap can make it in the business. They've gone through struggling times just as much as any rapper had. Their experience seemed fresh to me, although the same things occur around New York. They made me believe that maybe, just maybe, that Outkast are kings of "Da Art of Storytellin'."

Cover Image Credit: Marvel Universe Wiki

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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