As far as I know, there are no defined rules for an outro song, but basically it's the last track on a record, a sort of audio liner note, where the emcee (or in a rare circumstance, the singer) thanks all of their friends and homies over a poorly assembled song or simplistic beat. In principle, outro songs are seldom good—possessing all the longevity of a hiphop skit—as they wear out their welcome by the second listen or so. Yet still, I'm fascinated with the idea that artists no longer seem content with thanking those close to them via the printed word, and now have to dedicate an entire track to the purpose. So here's a little best-of-the-best in the weird world of outro songs.
"Last Call" by Kanye West
Tipping the ego scales at nearly 3,000 words long, Kanye's outro contribution is painfully long and takes hiphop narcissism to new heights. Even his disses to those who passed on signing him are heavy-handed and painfully unnecessary, such as his failed signing by Capitol Records: "I had picked out clothes. I already started booking studio sessions. I started arranging my album. Thinking of marketing schemes." Poor Kanye, I hope he kept the receipt for all those clothes he picked out.
"All Things Good and Nice" by Jets to Brazil
If outro songs only belong in hiphop, no one bothered telling that to emo legend Blake Schwarzenbach (of Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil fame). Lines like, "I love my drummer and all the things he plays... I love my guitarist his chops from outer space" make this whole track dreadful to listen to, and maybe he'd have been better off just clutching that mic and rapping it. Plus Schwarzenbach is not content at sharing his love with humans, as he gives some props to a few inanimate objects—such as his piano and, of course, his feelings.
"Wu-Wear: the Garment Renaissance" by RZA
While just as shameless as most outro songs, "Wu-Wear: the Garment Renaissance" is not your typical audio shout-out. The final track on RZA Hits, this song is little more than a commercial for the Wu clothing line. RZA preaches, "For the new year, strictly Wu-Wear" and the chorus drums home the not-so subtle message that Wu Wear "Ain't what you want, baby/it's what you need, baby." Bonus fact: Not only did this song appear on RZA Hits, it also somehow made an appearance on the soundtrack to the Jon Lovitz comedy bomb, High School High. Lovitz was totally this close to joining the Wu...
"Outro" by UGK
Now we're talking, finally an outro song that is done right. Granted it's comically long (over nine minutes), but UGK takes the time to give some love to all the key elements of a good outro song: the emcees, the family, the ladies, the locked-up, athletes, homies in different geographic regions, and, most importantly, those who enjoy getting high. All of this is done with a slow Southern drawl placed over a sexy beat that could only be described as "panty-dropping," plus that wah-wah pedal is a nice touch as well. And just when it couldn't get any sexier, they go and namedrop D'Angelo.