The Southern Playas open their second studio release ATLiens with “You May Die (Intro)” where a female narration silks into the ears as existentialist prayers grace the brain. The flute and plucked string combination over Portuguese prayers that describe, “Nothing new comes from the sun, all that is new comes from our Lord,” are fantastic and more fit for a chartreuse picnic under the trees of Milan. Before the real production and instrumentation can take the storm, Outkast takes Andre 3000 and Big Boi becoming the outsiders of hip-hop sounds here, even though most of modern hip-hop is influenced by their style.
While tracks like the self-titled cut “ATLiens” combine with tracks like “Elevators (Me & You)” where the sluggish tempo hits to cause the same damage. Most of the beauty comes from not just the chemistry from Big Boi or Andre 3000 but instead is from the production where Outkast was able to provide some of their own production despite the plethora of personnel on the record.
Making almost no difference from the bass lines on “Ova Da Wudz” to the more gorgeous piece “Babylon,” it is impossible to pinpoint how Outkast works. The snare snap-on “Babylon” is particularly engaging and more personal than the typical love story. Andre 3000 is able to illustrate a grade-school love where he says, “Chemistry between boys and girls is a lot like when we went to the woods and laid with the squirrels. During P.E, we’d be exploring each other’s privates.”
While young at heart, the style that Andre 3000 has is easier and more constructed to be hummed throughout the day as Big Boi continues to enter the mind. A one-two punch of tracks like “Babylon” smashes directly in “Wailin’” where all hands become sensual transitions into the boom-bap snares and vinyl to the ears.
Much of ATLiens is this extraterrestrial blend where Andre 3000 and Big Boi are monuments to the styles of sound. While that style lives underneath the umbrella of hip-hop, much of ATLiens is a treasure rather than a deeper dig through muck and mire.