Outkast – Ms. Jackson

First Hit #1: February 17, 2001

Is this a fresh take on a breakup song? It might be, impressive considering this is one of the most well traveled roads in pop music. Instead of addressing the departed partner directly, it’s a song addressed to her mother, though while the chorus is a direct apology the verses get infinitely more complex. It’s easy to remember that catchy chorus, Andre 3000 is an outright expert at making a hook, but hit the verses and you’ve got a portrait of a failed relationship that is as complicated as the rhymes necessary to portray it. It doesn’t treat the dead romance as something simple, it instead goes full force into everyone’s failings as people, the complex fallout from the clearly non-amicable split, and the people caught in the aftermath – it’s more about the broken couple’s child than it is about either Ms. Jackson or the child, no matter what the chorus might say. It’s a pop song in form, but the storytelling isn’t pop – it’s impressive what’s accomplished in just a few minutes, and intense and personal it gets between the hooks. It’s fresh because it takes an old pop staple, complicates it, and gives it a surprising amount of depth.

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One Response to Outkast – Ms. Jackson

  1. RBerman says:

    “I am for real.” Indeed, one of the realest (and thus saddest) songs we’ve seen at #1, ever. This scenario plays out every day in the broken homes of neighborhoods across North America. (The quiet “Here comes the bride” on guitar during the fadeout is a particularly poignant touch.) A good lyric contains many details, and rap’s nonstop verbal hemorrhage gives plenty of opportunity for these details about the epidemic of men who don’t know how to be fathers and husbands because they’ve never seen either.

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