Andre 3000 Explains Why Big Boi Is The Best Rapper In OutKast
OutKast’s André 3000 is in a season of transformation. The Georgia—born MC, producer, actor, and fashion designer now calls New York City his home. He’s leading a line with Tretorn and breaking some of his silence surrounding beats, rhymes, and life.
Following his summer conversation with Complex, 3 Stacks spent some time with GQ Style‘s Will Welch. Over their chats (some of which were spent walking around Brooklyn, and ducking from storms in random building lobbies), André reveals that he has been in a unique head-space since losing both of his parents.
To GQ, Benjamin (at 42) is candid about his mental state. Claiming that in his last days in Atlanta, he was “just sitting around wasting time and doing stuff I’m not supposed to be doing,” the heralded MC says it was not just boredom. He describes it as being “in a hole.” He says, “I was in a creative hole, a personal hole, and I was still not dealing with my mom’s and my father’s deaths. And really, I don’t know if I have still. You know: Just push that away. The problem with being successful is you can do whatever you do times ten. And no one to stop you. You can easily go down the wrong path, and you get into that place. And the thing that brings you out is other people.” He credits his longtime DJ and friend of more than 35 years, Swiff, as a support system. ‘Dre admits to a social anxiety of feeling “watched” and “nervous.” On the streets of New York, where one of the greatest rappers alive is recognized, he confronts those stressors head-on.
These challenges in André Benjamin’s life began at the height of OutKast’s success. “Before [Speakerboxxx/The Love Below], I moved to California. It started a little bit before then…And I started to notice it getting worse and worse. Because the more you run from it, the worse it gets. You don’t want to explain it because you don’t want to be a weak link around your friends. I never told my crew for a long time, so I just started getting to myself. Spending more time with myself and stopped touring.” By 2006, following Idlewild, OutKast went on a hiatus that creatively, still continues. Save for a small handful of songs in the last decade, and rare concerts, 3 Stacks and Big Boi are not a union—something which altered the entire Hip-Hop community.
However, the artist, who rapped directly to his partner on 2012’s “Sorry” (by T.I.), says some illuminating things about Big Boi. “Big Boi is smart as f*ck,” he says of his longtime partner who released Boomiverse this year. “We went to the same high school. I dropped out in 11th grade. Big Boi graduated with honors. When you watch early OutKast videos, Big Boi’s the leader. He always had the confidence, where I was kind of like the shy one. Big Boi can rap better than me—I always said that. If somebody said, ‘Pick who you want from OutKast to go to battle with you,’ it wouldn’t be me. ‘Cause like, what I’ma do? Say some mind sh*t? You can’t have thoughts in a battle—nobody gives a sh*t about that.”
On the personal side, as André finds himself in a new season of life, he says his partner figured himself out earlier. “I can say, man, my partner, Big Boi, has always been on it. He’s sharp. He always knew the right decisions. He got into a real relationship really early. Right before [ATLiens], he had a kid, and he and the girl stayed together, and they’re married now. I did the opposite. I’m all over the place. I never went on real dates. I don’t want to meet anybody’s parents. Like, I’m a f*cking rapper.”
However, that mentality was then. Asked what he’s up to outside of theater and fashion, specifically in music, ‘Dre says, “Actually, I hate going to the studio. So what’s got me going once again is me being excited about other artists. I’ve been working on producing a few artists. A couple projects. But here’s the crazy thing: I don’t have the pulse anymore. Rhythms change every generation. The intensity and the drums change. And I’m not on the pulse. I can’t pretend. It’s kinda like watching your uncle dance. So the only thing I can do is this kind of novelty, off thing for them.” He adds to the points he made in August about age. “For me, Hip-Hop is about freshness. You can always hop, but you won’t always be hip. At a certain point, you just won’t. And this is how I know: All the people I grew up with, none of them, not a one, is thriving.” André does not name these artists, but continues, “Not a one. So that tells me something. I gotta watch that, as someone that’s come in the game and has loved these guys. I mean, loved them. Loved them. But the potency just moves on.”
For music Heads, the six-time Grammy Award-winner revealed that there is music in the vaults that may be available for public consumption. “When I pass away, people will find hours and hours of files,” he admits, clarifying that a lot of the music features his piano, saxophone, and guitar playing. He adds that his first guitar chords became hit “Hey Ya!” Andre also says he might still have one more album left in him.
The full “Earth to André 3000: The OutKast Icon Talks Life After ‘Hey Ya!'” article by Will Welch.
#BonusBeat: This LAST 7 segment follows Andre 3000’s summertime comments about feeling too old to rap: