It’s no surprise to hear that a top hip-hop musician has eclectic musical tastes—in many cases it’s part and parcel of what enables such a person to ascend to such heights. And yet some instances of fanboy fandom stick out, such as the nearly obsessive adoration for the music of Kate Bush on the part of Antwan André “Big Boi” Patton of OutKast. He’s been talking about Kate Bush for years.
OutKast’s status as a legendary hip-hop act stems from the release of their third album Stankonia in 2000, which featured “B.O.B.” and “Ms. Jackson.” (The global hit “Hey Ya!” wouldn’t happen until 2003.) It was Stankonia that prompted SPIN to give the act a cover in March 2001. In that story, reported by Sacha Jenkins, Big Boi attested to his love of Kate Bush:
Everybody samples, but there’s a lot of not so creative sampling out there. When we sample, we sample for sounds, not for the structure of the whole damn song. It’s about being creative. With us, we listen to everything: Gil Scott-Heron, Minnie Riperton, James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Kate Bush—I go deep into her music.
While it was the young Antwan Patton’s grandmother who instilled in the young lad a love of music, it was an uncle who tipped him to Kate Bush. As he told the Los Angeles Times in 2010, “[She] became my favorite artist of all time. Her and Bob Marley would tie for first. I used to listen to ‘The Kick Inside’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘This Woman’s Work’ and just admiring the style of music she was making, from the production side of it to the lyrics,” he said. “It was kind of mind-blowing. I was like OK, I wanted to be like her. My thing was if [the music] was jamming, if it felt good [I liked it].”
In a 2004 profile of the band in the pages of The Guardian in the U.K., Big Boi was in the middle of a similar spiel when his cellphone sprang to life, revealing Boi’s chosen ringtone to be a well-known Kate Bush single from 1980: “‘I consider me and Dre to be funkateers, man. Growing up, we listened to everything and I think that gives us the ability to make a free-flowing type of music. It doesn’t matter whether it’s country, reggae or rock and roll. Kate Bush is my favourite artist of all time.’ As if on cue, his mobile starts to ring, trilling out a rendition of ‘Babooshka.’”
It’s become something of a quest of Big Boi’s to collaborate musically with Bush, as he told British GQ in 2010, but he’s been somewhat stymied by the fact that it’s very difficult to make contact with her: “I’ve been trying for some years now. She’s like a kinda recluse. She lives somewhere in a castle around here and plays some sort of oversized piano like the Phantom of the Opera! You can hear music come out the windows! I’m looking for her, know what I’m saying? That’s my dream collaboration for sure.”
Big Boi also appeared in Running Up That Hill the BBC documentary on Bush that came out in 2015. Earlier this year Big Boi experienced a breakthrough of sorts when he managed to meet with his hero for dinner. On May 11 Boi was in London and taped an appearance on Mistajam’s program on BBC Radio 1. During the program he indicated that he had gotten in touch with Bush and learned that she was still in a bit of a hiatus: “I think her son’s going off to school so she’s taking a little break.” Boi expressed optimism about working with her someday even if it is not his very next project. He used the radio’s airwaves to reach out to Bush, saying, “Kate, if you’re out there baby, I’m in town this Saturday. Let’s go see King Arthur or something together, ya feel me?” You can hear the full plea below:
Lo and behold, the next day Big Boi’s Twitter feed featured a signed photo of a Before the Dawn, the 2016 “presented by the KT Fellowship”—the album is credited as a Kate Bush release in Discogs—with the text “Just Had Dinner with Kate Bush! mind-blowing”:
One of the nicest aspects of that tweet is that his fan base knows full well how much he loves Kate Bush, so the image was greeted with many delighted replies.
They haven’t done anything together yet, but who knows? He’s a determined fellow for sure, and odds are that we will see some music from the two of them someday.
Here’s Boi’s ringtone, “Babooshka,” followed by a brief Pitchfork Media video in which he discusses his love for Bush:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Hey Ya: Sign the petition to have Outkast carved onto Stone Mountain’s Confederate memorial!
Kate Bush, fitness guru