Andre 3000 Thinks He’s Gotten Too Old To Rap. He’s Wrong.
It has been more than a decade since Andre 3000 released any album. The Outkast co-founder has picked his spots since 2006’s Idlewild and used scarce verses to freshen his discography. From UGK to Frank Ocean, DJ Unk to Divine Council, 3 Stacks has made those appearances count.
However, at age 42, Andre 3000 speaks candidly about age, creativity, and Hip-Hop. While JAY-Z’s 4:44 is the most talked about Rap album this summer, released by a 47-year-old who made his professional debut years before ‘Dre, 3000 seemingly puts a cap on his timeline. He considers Rap a “hobby” and admits that he does not relate to peers (and collaborators) such as Jay, Ice Cube, Bun B, Too Short, or Scarface, let alone his partner Big Boi (who dropped an LP in June).
“I kind of like not being a part of [Rap music], now that I’ve done it,” 3000 tells Complex‘s Alex Gale. He continues “As I get older, I start to see myself move more back from it—the hustle and bustle of putting out an album, the pressure of being in the studio trying to come up with something. Now it’s more like a hobby for me, so I don’t think about it in that way. Even with Outkast, if we never do another album, I’m totally fine with that. When I was 25, I said I don’t want to be a 30-year-old rapper. I’m 42 now, and I feel more and more that way. Do I really want to be 50 years old up there doing that?”
“Rapping is like being a boxer,” André equates. “No matter how great you are or were at a certain time, the older you get, the slower you get—I don’t care who you are. And I can feel that coming on. There’s always a new wave of artists, and sometimes I’m just like, ‘I’m good. I’ll let the young guys do it.’” Moments later, he says, “I don’t get much happiness from doing music like that—I get happiness from pleasing who I’m working with, and helping them, and seeing them be excited.”
Having recently relocated to New York City for a creative director at Tretorn, Andre 3000 must have watched a hometown takeover for Jay’s 4:44 firsthand. Upon Jay’s Songwriter Hall Of Fame induction, 3000 referred to his “30 Something (Remix)” collaborator as “the king.” But he also admits he cannot relate. “When I watch other rappers that are my age I commend them, but I just wonder where the inspiration is coming from.” He then bluntly states, “At this stage I’m really more focused on what I am going to be doing 10 years from now. And I hope to God it won’t be rapping.”
Memorable post-album features from 3000 include Devin The Dude’s “What A Job” (perhaps an embodiment of his current views), UGK’s “International Players Anthem,” T.I.’s “Sorry,” and ‘Kast reunion “Da Art Of Storytelling 4” from DJ Drama’s first album.
In the feature, the Dungeon Family states that he enjoys collaborating with others beyond solo material these days, citing Frank Ocean and Travi$ Scott in particular. With these two, Dre made respective singles that charted in 2016.
Of his most renowned collaborator, Big Boi, ‘Dre says, “We have such an understanding that it’s never friction. There’s never pressure of, ‘Hey, man, let’s get back in.’ Of course there’s always money on the table, but it’s never seen that way. We’ve been blessed to not have to scratch for that money. Maybe it’ll be an issue in the future, but maybe not.”
The Complex interview profile examines Andre’s pursuits in fashion, acting, and currently learning new instruments. “I still love music, but I’m trying to find that deeper thing,” he says.
While making music alone (or with Outkast) may not be a source of happiness for André Benjamin at this point, he has proven—even in the last year—that he is a master, making many others happy.