Charis welcomed Regina Bradley in conversation with Special Guests for a celebration of An Outkast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Postmodern South. The volume includes a who's who of hip-hop studies and African American studies scholarship, including Charlie Braxton, Susana M. Morris, Howard Ramsby II, Reynaldo Anderson, and Ruth Nicole Brown. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
OutKast, the Atlanta-based hip-hop duo formed in 1992, is one of the most influential musical groups within American popular culture of the past twenty-five years. Through Grammy-winning albums, music videos, feature films, theatrical performances, and fashion, Andr "Andr 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton have articulated a vision of postmodern, post-civil rights southern identity that combines the roots of funk, psychedelia, haute couture, R&B, faith and spirituality, and Afrofuturism into a style all its own. This postmodern southern aesthetic, largely promulgated and disseminated by OutKast and its collaborators, is now so prevalent in mainstream American culture (neither Beyonc Knowles's "Formation" nor Joss Whedon's sci-fi /western mashup Firefly could exist without OutKast's collage aesthetic) that we rarely consider how challenging and experimental it actually is to create a new southern aesthetic.
An OutKast Reader, then, takes the group's aesthetic as a lens through which readers can understand and explore contemporary issues of Blackness, gender, urbanism, southern aesthetics, and southern studies more generally. Divided into sections on regional influences, gender, and visuality, the essays collectively offer a vision of OutKast as a key shaper of conceptions of the twenty-first-century South, expanding that vision beyond long-held archetypes and cultural signifiers.
Regina N. Bradley is an alumna Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at Harvard University and an assistant professor of English and African diaspora studies at Kennesaw State University. She is the author of Boondock Kollage; Stories from the Hip Hop South, Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South, and editor of the anthology, An Outkast Reader: Essays of Race, Gender, and the Postmodern South.
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OutKast, the Atlanta-based hip-hop duo formed in 1992, is one of the most influential musical groups within American popular culture of the past twenty-five years.