Tuesday, 25 August 2009

80: OutKast - Ms. Jackson

'Ms. Jackson' sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before, and to claim that it reinvented hip-hop would probably be a fair description. Rap music in the early Noughties was dominated by Roc-A-Fella Records (under the control of Jay Z) and Aftermath, Dr. Dre's fledgling label, with Eminem as the public face, Snoop Dogg as the veteran leadership, and young upstarts like Xzibit, Nelly, Usher and The Neptunes producing chart-topping hit after hit.

And then, along came OutKast. They didn't care for guns, money, bitches and bling. Oh no. OutKast wanted to apologise. To the mother of their ex-girlfriend. For splitting up with her. How gentlemanly!

The song, as you well know, centres around a slow pop hook, and those lyrics, a heartfelt message, from OutKast's Andre 'Andre 3000' Benjamin to his "baby's momma's momma". The ex-girlfriend in question was Erykah Badu, and Andre wanted to "apologize a trillion times" for the messy break-up, and encourage Badu's mother to rethink her suggestion that Badu seek custody of their young child. "Yes I will be present on the first day of school, and graduation" he promises. "My intentions were good" he claims. Coming from any of the other Noughties' hip-hop roster, you wouldn't have believed it, but from OutKast, the delivery was convincing.

Most depressing fact about 'Ms. Jackson' is that the UK record-buying public, in their infinite wisdom, kept it off the top of the charts in March 2001, when it was released. It stuck at #2, but couldn't dislodge the massively inferior 'Whole Again' from Atomic Kitten.

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