Call it the “Dirty South Side Story.”
Andre 3000’s The Love Below gang and Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx crew — a hip-hop version of the Jets and Sharks — will square off in a contemporary retelling of the classic musical “West Side Story.” Their battle is the centerpiece of Outkast’s new video, “Roses.”
“It’s about a rivalry between two high school crews,” Andre said recently on the video’s set. “We’re pretty much after the same girl, Caroline, and she’s in a girl group called Roses, with pink jackets.”
“We’re battling for her attention,” Big Boi continued. “I sent Caroline a love letter asking her to be my valentine and she puts ‘Maybe.’ So I get enraged and me and the fellas come across town to [Andre’s] school to wreak havoc.”
Big Boi confronts his rival in the school auditorium, where Andre’s gang is putting on a play.
“We’re performing onstage, trying to win over Caroline,” Dre said. “And Speakerboxxx, they bust into the auditorium and disrupt things and we get to fighting. It’s an all-out brawl.”
The video, directed by longtime Outkast collaborator Bryan Barber, also features Goodie Mob, Sleepy Brown and Farnsworth Bentley. It’s due before the end of February.
Andre and Big Boi were originally slated to release separate singles to follow up their Speakerboxxx/The Love Below smashes “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move,” but were only budgeted enough money for one video.
“We were supposed to do ‘Prototype’ and ‘Church,’ but it fell into place for us to do ‘Roses.’ It seemed like the right thing to do since it’s one of the only records with us together, and the fans want to see us together again,” Big Boi said. “And the song jams.”
The song jams in a different way than past Outkast singles, however. It begins with a piano solo before exploding into verbal assaults — such as “Caroline, she’s the reason for the word ‘bitch’ ” — over a mid-tempo groove.
“A homeboy I grew up with, he brought these chords over to the house and I was like, ‘Man, this is dope,’ ” Andre explained. “So I got a tape, started writing to it and co-produced it with him — you know, funked it up, made it chunky, and it just turned out what it is. It’s just a feeling. It’s not like we trying to look for something new or different. As artists, we just try to keep ourselves excited. It ain’t about being crazy and outlandish, but if you feeling like that, crank it up.”
Outkast are already working on the follow-up to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below as well as a movie for HBO.