"Player's Ball": OutKast's Anti-Christmas Song

"Player's Ball": OutKast's Anti-Christmas Song

Published Sat, December 24, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST

A legendary career with the most unlikely of origins. 'Tis the season.

Andre Benjamin and Antwon Patton were barely out of high school when they landed on LaFace Records. After shopping their demo to local beatmakers, they'd started floating around Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown aka the production team Organized Noize. The young emcees would soon be drafted into the legendary Dungeon Family.

"Dre talked about these producers," Dungeon Family cohort Cee-Lo Green told ROCK THE BELLS in 2020, looking back at those early days. "I was almost a part of OutKast. We talked about it. I introduced Dre and Big to DJ Win and [he] did a demo on them early on. But Dre found these new producers and was like 'They so dope. We about to get a deal with LaFace.'"

Rico, Ray and Sleepy crafted the sound and built the connections that propelled the collective success of the Dungeon Family. They'd coined their name recording in the basement (aka "The Dungeon") of Wade's mother's house. And after taking their first steps and landing a production deal with L.A. Reid at LaFace Records, the Dungeon Family was ready to explode.

When LaFace President Antonio "L.A." Reid was putting together a Christmas compilation featuring LaFace artists, he wanted to include Organize Noize, who was eager to showcase their new duo OutKast. But they were iffy on jumping on a holiday-themed compilation as their first release.

"I told OutKast, 'We gotta do a Christmas song, but we'll just talk about what we don't do on Christmas, or what it means to us,'" Rico Wade would recall to COMPLEX in 2012. "And while we were in the studio working on it, I had to go meet Ray at another session, cause he was working on a song for this group called The Drip Drop."

The beat for "The Drip Drop" would quickly find its way to a different concept.

"I went over to the studio and I heard the beat he was doing," explained Wade. "We took that beat and took it to the studio and turned it up. We ended up using that for 'Players Ball.' There were samples at the beginning, and we were like, 'We know we can't clear these samples' so that's when we got Big Rube to talk on the beginning. But that song ended up jumping off OutKast's career."

“That was that first record where we realized we had something,” Sleepy Brown remembered. “Where we knew we could make some noise on this muthafucka, real soon.”

“Player's Ball” becomes major on radio, as DJs play it more than any other track on the Christmas album. Reid realizes it's worth releasing “Player's Ball” as a standalone single. And he hires Sean "Puffy" Combs to direct the song's music video, which only further raises OutKast's profile when the vid becomes a mainstay on popular shows like Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps.

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After "Player's Ball" becomes a hit, it gives L.A. Reid more confidence in OutKast and he gives the greenlight to Organized Noize to produce a debut album for the teens.

In April 1994, OutKast dropped their debut album. With tremendous buzz following the success of "Player's Ball," Big Boi and Dre looked to be the hottest thing coming out of the ATL. southernplayalisticadillacmuzik would not only kickstart OutKast's storied career; the hit album would also break the bicoastal grip of East and West Coast Hip-Hop, and launch the Dungeon Family into orbit. 

And it all started with a song about how wack they thought Christmas was.

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