André 3000 Explains Why It Feels Inauthentic To Rap
Tomorrow (November 17), André 3000 is releasing his first album in 17 years. New Blue Sun marks Dre’s first full-length outside of OutKast. Twenty years ago, André and Big Boi attached two solo projects together for the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album that remains Hip-Hop’s most recent “Album Of The Year” at the Grammys. In 2023, Dre’s release reportedly contains not a single Rap bar.
The decorated veteran spoke to GQ‘s Zach Baron for an immersive video feature about his relationship with Rap, creativity, and authenticity. “I think just, in general, when it came to figuring out what we do creatively and where my creative juices [are] coming from, within OutKast, there was a certain point where I just didn’t know where else to go,” 3000 says after 9:30. OutKast has not released an album since 2006’s Idlewild, a thematic soundtrack release. Since then, Dre and Big have teamed up sporadically for collaborations, and performances. Fresh off of a ’23 Grammy nomination alongside Dungeon Family peer Killer Mike, Andre dismissed notions he’s rapping in secret. “Even now, people think, ‘Aw man, he’s just sittin’ on raps,’ or ‘he’s just holding [these] raps hostage,’ it’s like, I ain’t got no raps like that. It’s actually feels…sometimes it feels inauthentic for me to rap, because I don’t have anything to talk about that way. I’m 48 years old—not to say that age is a thing that dictates what you rap about, but in a way, it does.” André 3000 quips that no one wants to hear him rap about colonoscopies or declining eyesight. The artist, wearing eyeglasses, smiles through his point.
Baron equates Andre 3000’s talent to having a sports car in the garage and not driving it. “Talent is one thing, but honestly, it’s timing, and I think momentum is more important than talent—and the energy of it. Talent—there’s a lot of people with talent, and we’re seeing that now. Like, there’s so many dope people on the Internet that are just raw. But it’s your timing, it’s what you’re talking about, it’s if you’re catching the zeitgeist of what’s happening in the world. And like, my goal is: I want to connect. I’m not talkin’ about nothin’ that I can’t connect with. It’s no use.”
3000 admits that he tries to test his abilities and prowess frequently. “I try all the time. Like, I’m open to producers now—young producers—and I get beats all the time. And people send me songs to get on remixes and stuff like that, but I don’t be knowin’ what to talk about most of the time.”
The thing that may change Andre 3000’s rapping output is within. “I think you’re your best and worst critic. I only work on feeling. Feeling is my only barometer of what I’m doing. I don’t feel like I’m the best rapper, I don’t feel like I’m the best producer, I don’t feel like I’m the best singer, actor, none of that.” The multi-talented artist says he has been that way for decades. “That’s always been that way, even within OutKast. If it felt right—I ain’t care what other people thought—if it felt right, I ain’t gon’ argue with what it felt like.” However, André Benjamin is candid about his standing. “It hasn’t, in a while, when it comes to rapping or vocal type of music; I don’t do it. The song is more important; the music is more important.”
In response to one of New Blue Sun‘s opening song title, “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A “Rap” Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time,” the artist proclaims, “In my mind, I would love to make a Rap album.” He repeats that point. “But this is what came at this time, and it felt authentic.”
Andre does admit that he and Tyler, The Creator have had discussions. The Odd Future artist reportedly told Dre that he sets an example of where artists can go through aging and evolution. Zach Baron points to 3000’s reputation for excellence throughout his career. “Track record is one thing, the right now is a whole ‘nother.” André likens his time away from Rap to a sober person’s time away from a substance, implying that it becomes harder to relapse. “People don’t understand, there’s a physical-ness to rapping.” He compares rapping to boxing. “It is partly phyiscal, partly mental.” 3000 admits, “If I were to make a Rap album, the best thing I could do is probably just be around rappers.” He then drops a dose of reality. “Like, I don’t even go into the studio and just be hangin’ out with n____as like smokin’ all day. I just don’t.”
André 3000 concludes that part of the discussion by explaining his song title “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A “Rap” Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time” is a reaction to the pressure he faces from fans and supporters daily.
André 3000’s Grammy-nominated song, “SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS” with Killer Mike, Future, and Eryn Allen Kane, is currently included on the Ambrosia For Heads playlist: