ATLiens is the second studio album by American hip hop duo OutKast, released August 27, 1996 on LaFace Records in the United States. Its title is a portmanteau of “ATL” (an abbreviation of Atlanta, Georgia) and “aliens”. The album was very well received by music critics upon its release, and it has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of two million copies in the United States.
Unlike their debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, in which the two portrayed themselves as Southern pimps, many songs on ATLiens feature more unconventional subject matter for hip hop. It also has a notably more laid-back, spacey production sound, which they would continue to a certain extent on their follow-up album Aquemini.
Upon its release, ATLiens received positive reviews from music publications such as The Hartford Courant, Rolling Stone, and The Washington Post. In a retrospective review of the album, RapReviews music critic Steve Juon wrote:
It’s deep. So deep that listening to ‘ATLiens’ you might feel like drowning, but the smooth vo-cals of Big Boi and the earthy flows of Andre always push you back up to the surface. They are players in the truest sense of the word; not just playing for ends but playing to win in the ultimate battle of life over death, good over bad, and righteousness over evil. Yet, it’s not that heavy either. This album is nod your head music, shake your ass music. It makes you think and groove at the same time. If you don’t want to be challenged by your hip-hop, ‘ATLiens’ is not the album for you; matter of fact OutKast is not the group for you. They refuse to be conventional in a world of formulaic mediocrity, which may make them harder to grasp but ultimately makes them that much better to listen to.
While critically acclaimed, it would not be until they released Aquemini (1998) and most notably Stankonia (2000) that OutKast would receive significant mainstream popularity. The hit single “Elevators (Me & You)” was later included on the Big Boi & Dre Present… OutKast greatest hits album in 2001. In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source’s 100 Best Rap Albums. In a retrospective review, Allmusic editor Steve Huey viewed the album as OutKast’s “most focused work” and commented that “In addition to the striking musical leap forward, Dre and Big Boi continue to grow as rappers; their flows are getting more tongue-twistingly complex, and their lyrics more free-associative”. – Wikipedia