Is Outkast Better Than the Beatles? A Scientific Analysis

Illustration for article titled Is Outkast Better Than the Beatles? A Scientific Analysis
Photo: Daily Express/Theo Wargo (Getty Images)
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It started with a simple tweet from comedian Ron Funches (who at least one white person assumed was Questlove’s real name).

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Of course, this set off a shitstorm. Everyone knows, in white culture, three things are always true:

  1. It needs a little more mayonnaise.
  2. They can’t be racist if they spent more than 2.15 hours in a Black person’s presence.
  3. The Beatles rock.

White people love the Beatles. The only Black cultural equivalent that even comes close is the Five Heartbeats (the Eddie King Jr. iteration, not that Flash bullshit). Every white person I know acts as if John, Paul, Ringo and the other motherfucker (I’m guessing Brett?) invented the treble clef.

Aside from Panama Jackson’s “Return of the Mack” take (which everyone knows was an obvious joke), The Root would never engage in such obvious journalistic subjectivity. However, we decided to analyze this question from an unbiased perspective. We broke it down into seven categories and assigned each one an individual score based on a completely scientific algorithm written by negrodynamics scholar and Dr. Al Bead Ham.

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Here’s what we discovered:

Origin Story

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison were originally called the Quarrymen and the Silver Beatles and hail from Liverpool, England. After a string of successful hits in the U.K., the Beatles debuted in the United States.

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Outkast was formed in Atlanta, Ga., by André “3000" Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patterson

Winner: Outkast

One of the Beatles’ first American performance was an Isley Brothers remake (And they didn’t even have a Ron Isley “zaddy” beard). Outkast’s first major live performance was at the 1995 Source Awards right after the infamous “come to Death Row” speech.

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Does Liverpool even have a Magic City?

Lyrics

You need a concordance to decipher one group’s lyrics. The other group’s songs could have been written in crayon. But, for the sake of argument, we’ll break it down.

Twice upon a time there was a boy who died twice
And lived happily ever after
but that’s another chapter
Live from the home of the Brave with dirty dollars
And beauty parlors, and baby bottles and bowling ball Impalas
And street scholars that’s majoring in culinary arts.
(You know...How to work bread, cheese and dough
From scratch), But see the catch is – you can get caught.
Know what ya sellin’ and what ya bought, so cut that big talk
– Outkast, “Aquemini”

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In eight bars, Andre 3000 talked about Jesus, crack, classic cars, and sports. Meanwhile, the Beatles have such hard-hitting lyrics as:

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, Let it be.
Asking words of wisdom
Let it be.

— The Beatles, “Let it Be”

Or how about this one:

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

— The Beatles, “She Loves You

Winner: Outkast

Come on, son. Barney’s theme song is better than that! No one has Paul McCartney or John Lennon in their top 5. Plus, who the fuck is Jude and why would he enjoy such a lackluster greeting? I demand an explanation!

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And if you think I’m cherry picking, you just read about three of the Fab Four’s 5 biggest hits.

“Aquemini” wasn’t even a single.

Commercial Success

I should write something here, but you already know what it is.

Winner: The Beatles

The Beatles have sold more than 1.6 billion singles and 183 million albums in the U.S. alone. Their 20 No. 1 singles and 19 No. 1 albums are the most in history. They are the best-selling artists of all time.

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Outkast have sold 22 million albums.

However, I don’t know a single Black person who actually owns a Beatles album.

Critical Success

Prepare to be shocked.

If you take away the Beatles’ Lifetime Achievement Award, Outkast and the Beatles are tied in Grammy wins. While the Beatles have more nominations, they both have one Grammy each for Album of the Year (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band versus Speakerboxx/The Love Below).

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Winner: Outkast

Simply put, Outkast has a better track record. Every single album they have ever made has been nominated for a Grammy. Meanwhile, most of the Beatles’ albums haven’t.

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Unlike Outkast, The Beatles has never been honored by the BET Awards for their work. To date, they have yet to be nominated for a single Source or Soul Train Award.

Discography

The Beatles have released 12 studio albums of original work, twice as many as Outkast’s six studio releases. But here’s the thing: If you remove re-releases, Outkast has actually released more original singles (24) than the Beatles’ 22. And, while the Beatles U.S. studio releases began in 1964 with Introducing... The Beatles and ended in 1970 with Let it Be, Outkast’s original work spans 12 years.

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Winner: The Beatles

I know, right? The fact that Outkast’s career lasted twice as long as the Beatles shocked me, too! The way white people talk about them, I thought they were around for the careers of Aretha Franklin to Jay-Z!

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Also, Outkast has made music with Aretha Franklin and Jay-Z.

Solo Work

I know John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and that’s it.

Paul McCartney’s biggest was “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which I’m amazed exists. I’ve been to a lot of white places, including bars, Walmart and Indiana and have never heard this song. I’m sure it’s fine. And, if I told you that Ringo Starr or George whatshisname was dead, you’d have to Google it (Harrison and Ringo both passed away in 2002).

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Meanwhile, here is a partial list of Outkast’s Solo work:

Andre 3000:

“What a Job” by Devin the Dude
“Green Light” by John Legend
“Party” by Beyonce
“Sorry” by T.I.
“Walk it Out” by Unk
“Throw Some D’s” by Rich Boy
“Deuces” by Chris Brown

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Big Boi

Sir Lucious Left Foot (Number 3 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart)
“Royal Flush”
“Dirty South” by Goodie Mobb
“All in My Grill” by Missy Elliot
“Poppin Tags” by Jay-Z
“Nothing on You” (remix) by B.o.B.
“In da Wind” - Trick Daddy

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Winner: Outkast

This wasn’t even close. The beat drop in “International Players Anthem” slaps harder than anything the Beatles ever made.

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Also, Ringo Starr is alive

Cultural Impact/Legacy

There is no doubt that the Beatles are one of the most influential groups in music history and Outkast is arguably the group that made Atlanta the capital of the current music scene. Without Outkast, there’s be no trap music and Freaknik may have just been a passing thought. The Beatles gave us Yoko Ono, Outkast gave us Erykah Badu. The Beatles didn’t have a Dungeon Family, a Goodie Mobb, a Killer Mike or even a side-roach.

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Winner: Outkast

Every bar, nightclub, wedding DJ or house party playlist that has a Beatles song, probably contains an Outkast song. My kids don’t know who the Beatles are and it’s not because the Beatles are old. They were born after Outkast but they know the songs. Does anyone know how many “stacks” Ringo Starr is valued at? What do you know about Sir Paul’s left foot? Are any of the Beatles’ oral illustrations like clitoral stimulation to the female gender? I assume the Fab Four’s hygiene is relatively good but are they so fresh and so clean clean?

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Paul McCartney can’t play the flute. If you still aren’t clear on their legacy, here is the ultimate test:

Put on a Beatles song at the next cookout.


Overall Winner

Operating Under The Krooked American System Too Long, Dre and Big Boi up in this thing like Tony Toni Tone...

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Thankfully, I know for a fact that Jesus thinks Outkast is better because I saw him at Outkast’s last concert:

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I asked him who was blessed and highly favored and he said: “Two dope boys in a Cadillac.”

That’s just science.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

DISCUSSION

Nope, it’s the Beatles by a mile, all day every day.

The Beatles changed culture, both musically and outside of music. They helped to expand what was considered musically artistic, writing their own songs in a time where that wasn’t the norm, and expanding into albums as statements vs. releasing single after single to make a quick buck. They introduced other influences, such as Indian music and spirituality, to their listeners and peers. Their music is still looked at today as a high-water mark of artistic achievement.

Not that Outkast isn’t good, they absolutely pushed the limits of what rap could be, but they just don’t have the same global reach that the Beatles did and continue to have. You can’t throw a rock in a crowded room of musicians without hitting one who’ll tell you that the Beatles made them want to create music. They may not go over well at the next cookout, but they’re just too big an influence in music, art, and popular culture to lose this debate to anyone other than perhaps Dylan, the Stones, or Brian Wilson/the Beach Boys.