THEN: The first time I met OUTKAST was in the fall of 1994. It was my freshman year at college, and I was working for the Southern University Student Government Association for Homecoming. My job was to assist with the artists performing at the concert. I was assigned to Aaliyah. While she was doing soundcheck, I was sitting in the stands and I turned around and no shit OUTKAST was sitting there. We struck up a conversation...which really means I started talking to them as per my usual. They were super cool and humble (at the time they were OPENING for Aaliyah so) and I was excited about where their career would go.
Fast forward to spring 1997. The fall 1996/spring 1997 school year was one of the best moments in my life! Seriously. I was on the homecoming court in the fall and that spring I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The previous school year I had become a total Outkast fanatic. I had also found out the hype behind marijuana and no artists mixed quite as well with weed as the ATLiens (still a fact lol). This was the life. I was wrapping up my junior year at college, I'd risen to the high ranks of the social scale at school and I was feeling pretty optimistic about life. Icing on the cake? Guess who came to perform at Springfest! Yup OUTKAST! This time there was something different about the group.
In the three years since we'd previously met, they had sold a gazillion albums and even introduced the world to GOODIE MOB. These were no longer just two young guys pursuing music, they had put the south on the map in a major way. I was super excited to meet them once again but this time I found them more focused than laid back and cool. They inspired me that it was time to get a plan. In 1997, my life became focused on getting to Los Angeles. I felt if I could just be in the City of Angels, opportunity would come. I felt I'd get discovered for whatever my talent was and I believed with all my might that it would happen.
In the 17 years between Springfest '97 and today, so much has happened. I moved to L.A. - twice. I discovered my talent (for myself, no one ever magically appeared to tell me what it was). Outkast stopped making new music. They announced they'd do a 20 city tour to celebrate their 20 years in the business. I was confident I had to see them. I was fortunate to go to Voodoo Fest in New Orleans for their Halloween night performance. The show was amazing. While there I began to ponder on my life and what I had done over the 20 years since first seeing the guys in the FG Clark Activity Center.
My initial reaction was sadness. When I first started listening to OUTKAST, I wanted to be so many things. I really thought I'd be an MTV VJ one day-that was my highest aspiration to be the next Downtown Julie Brown. That didn't happen. I hadn't had a horrible life but I also hadn't reached the goals I'd set for myself. My mind quickly shifted from what I had wanted to accomplish to what I wanted to be. When I was in college, I often dreamed of the person I wanted to become. I wanted to be a single woman, very connected with her friends but also committed to her career. I wanted to go to amazing concerts and get to know music artists in social situations so I could ask them questions and share how their music influenced me. I wanted to work hard on creative endeavors but also play hard, traveling often and enjoying life. I dreamed and longed to not live a status quo life. I wanted to experience everything that life had to offer, not just what I knew in my small town upbringing. I wanted to be an adventurer, fully engaged and open to what the world had to offer.
As I stood awaiting the group I'd followed for two decades to appear on stage, I realized that I AM who I wanted to be. I have seen the vision for my life unfold and I've done even more than I imagined. Life has been pretty amazing. As the night went on I couldn't help but focus on the future (especially since my costume was from the year 2076). I began to visualize who I want to be and what I'd like to experience in the next 20 years. As I shared my vision with Andre 3000 later in the night, I looked around and saw my line sister from 1997 and my homegirl from my days at Purdue-both people who were there at different points of my OUTKAST journey. I felt myself in the flow of life - how vision becomes reality...how all things align. It felt like a story unfolding...it felt pretty damn Spottieottiedopaliscious!!!
For your listening pleasure...