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OutKast: Memories, music and my favorite group

I’ve always marveled at music’s ability to speak to us.

Music has power. Power to match our moods and even change them. Songs also have a unique ability to trigger memories. There might be one song that always makes you think of a first date or one that makes you think of high school.

For me, one group in particular has the ability to trigger so many memories and lift my spirits: Atlanta- based rap group OutKast.

OutKast is made up of two members, Andre 3000 and Big Boi. This weekend I saw them perform live for the first time in 13 years.

Prior to the show, I was both nervous and excited. Nervous because I hold OutKast in such high regard I was afraid I’d be disappointed by their performance, especially after I flew all the way to Florida to see them thinking I’d set the bar too high. Yet I was also excited because, after all, they are my favorite group of all time.

After the show was over, I walked away an even bigger fan. Their performance was brilliant; five out of five stars.

The duo got the crowd moving right away with the high-energy song “B.O.B.,” keeping that energy alive for the rest of the night. Andre and Big Boi were in sync, which hasn’t always seemed to be the case in the past few years.

They ran through their biggest commercial successes, playing their chart topping hits “Hey Ya” and “I Like The Way You Move.” They threw in others hits like “Mrs. Jackson” and “Rosa Parks.” Then OutKast took us down memory lane, performing songs from their first album released back in 1994.

The performance spanned their entire career in this 90-minute set. I was caught up in the moment. I was as excited as a child on Christmas morning or as a fan watching my team win the Super Bowl.

After the show is when the memories surfaced. Memories like the first time I had heard of this rap group called OutKast as a 16-year-old high school junior watching the video for, “Player’s Ball” on BET’s “Rap City.” From that moment on, I was hooked.

So hooked that I wore out their first CD driving around in my 1984 Buick LeSabre. I had to buy another one. By the time OutKast’s second album was out, I was a freshman in college walking through the Boston Public Garden debating which song was the best on my way to class.

The third album I bought at midnight at Tower Records the moment it came out. I wanted to be one of the first to buy it. I went back to my dorm room and played it right away. Twice. Remember those days?

A few months later was the first time I saw them live. Two years later, I saw them perform twice after releasing their fourth album. That was back in 2001. They haven’t toured much since then, despite having a couple of No. 1 hits. Thirteen years is a long time to wait.

This performance was worth that wait.

Albert Einstein once said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” On their second album, OutKast has a song titled, “Growing Old.” I’ve been listening to their music for 20 years, more than half of my life. In a sense, I’m “Growing Old” with them.

It’s because their music has always spoken to me and because like Einstein noted, I can remember parts of my life in terms of OutKast’s music.