(Photo: LaFace Records)
Stankonia usually gets an unfair wrap as the album that came after three prior classics and before Outkast’s diamond double disk Speakerboxxx/The Love Below project. When it comes to hits, though, the 2000 LP has some of the Atlanta duo’s most recognizable to this day, including the landmark “Ms. Jackson.”
Recently speaking with Okayplayer, Killer Mike — who was heavily involved with Outkast at the time — and the real Ms. Jackson (Erykah Badu’s mom Kolleen “Queeny” Wright) remembered Stankonia 15 years later. Mike detailed how Outkast saved him from a harsh alternative life.
“I was tired of the street s**t,” he explained when asked about Outast’s influence on his career. “I was fed up with my square a** job, you know what I’m saying?! I worked with kids at the time and I was trying to help them get they s**t through force. I felt like a hypocrite. I was just at my wits end with all of the s**t, so that verse really was viscerally me and all my frustrations coming out in the dopest, most slickest way I could possible say. Big [Boi] and [Andre 3000] gave me the opportunity of my life. Those two brothers and Regina Davenport, who was there — she co-ran the label with them and had come up with them from the LaFace era — really believe in me.”
During a separate interview, but part of the same series, Queeny Wright remembered back to the roots of the song “Ms. Jackson,” a musical ode and apology from Andre 3000 to her for his breakup with then significant other Erykah Badu.
“I didn’t know what to think,” she said. “I had to listen to it over and over because first I had to figure out if I was being insulted — I had to figure out what vein it was in! I didn’t know, because — with a lot of music during that time — I didn’t know where it was coming from, because that wasn’t my genre of music. After I listened to it and listened to it, I said, Oh, this might not be too bad. This might be harmless; this might be apologetic, this may be okay. So when I felt that it wasn’t being an insult or disrespectful, then I kind of settled into it.”
Wright also described who Andre Benjamin was back then and who he is now, relaying that he is a “quietly-spirited individual.”
“I totally adore Andre Benjamin as a person,” she explained. “As a person he is a great and sensitive and quietly-spirited individual. Now let’s get that out of the way. And now since I know him a little bit, I mean since I know him personally, I know that that is altogether true. I only wanted the best because it comes through his music, it comes through whatever he does. He is genuinely a great guy and for all genuinely great guys or gals or anybody who are good people, I want them to do well and I want them to excel and I want them to have the best. So since it was Andre and since I knew him, I was thrilled that he got the Grammy because he certainly deserved it.”
Stankonia was released on October 31, 2000, and was Outkast’s fourth studio LP. It was also Big Boi and Andre 3000’s best-selling album up until that point, scanning over 4,000,000 copies in the United States alone. “Ms. Jackson,” Stankonia’s second single, topped the U.S. charts in early 2001 and won a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
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