Andre chops it up with FADER.
FADER was lucky enough to get on the phone with Andre 3000, and they spoke on his guest features, the latest being "DoYaThing" with the Gorillaz, being judged on his verses and more. Read some excerpts below, head here for the entire thing. Andre has some wise words.
You’re in a place in your career where you can do pretty much whatever you want. How do you decide who to collaborate with? Most of the time it has to be the music. The music has to kinda move me in some kind of way. Sometimes it’s emotionally, sometimes it’s just being there supporting another person. Even the Chris Brown remix—of course I love the beat, but at that time a lot of people were on Chris Brown as a human being. And I know he’d gone through his troubles or whatever and I just was like—I just wanted to stand by him and be like, Hey, you know, you can’t really charge a man forever and condemn a man forever. So it’s really just like a support thing. I thought it was a cool thing to do.
In the last couple years, it seems like you’ve been excited about rap and rapping again. I’ve been excited about what new artists are bringing to rap. I notice how it’s really just a continuous conversation, a lineage thing. In high school it was all about A Tribe Called Quest and Souls of Mischief, and Too Short and 8Ball & MJG and UGK for us. And we just kept the torch going. Now I talk to Drake, and I know he had to be like ten when he was listening to what we were doing. You just never know who’s listening until you hear a connection. I didn’t even know Drake dug my music, I just liked him as a rapper because I felt he had a balance. I didn’t even know that he grew up listening to me. But it’s cool to know that it’s a real lineage thing. I’m happy to see Kanye and Wayne and Drake and all these new artists. They inspire me in a way because they reach back and they say, “Hey, we want to get you on these songs.” I don’t rap every day. I don’t sit around writing raps like that. And when these artists call, it’s kind of like they get me going. And I really wanna just be good for them. I want to impress them or have them be happy to say, “Okay, he did well on my song.” I don’t want to be messing their song up.
So people get too caught up in the idea that you’re doing a verse and make a decision before they’ve really listened to it? No, no. I think true fans—they listen for the words and they pay attention to that. But I think overall it becomes like, “Oh, okay, what’s going to happen now?” It becomes an event. And that’s scary. It’s scary when people are just waiting for your next verses. So when I’m writing it’s a scary thing to know that even if I’m saying a verse, I know that people are listening now. At one point in time, I would have more fun when people weren’t listening. You’re always better when people aren’t watching the experiment.
In the interview you did with GQ the other day, you mentioned that it’s better to be on deadline, or else you’ll never get anything done. How does that work with this solo album? Are you putting yourself on a deadline? I’m actually putting myself on deadlines more than ever. I don’t have someone policing that. Even in Outkast there were no police. But now it’s just time. I’m at a place now where my deadline is my own self. I’m looking at it like, Okay, I don’t want to be like 40 years old and to haven’t done this album. And I don’t have a sense of time. When people say, Man, we haven’t heard from you in like five years, or seen you, to me, it feels like a year. I don’t have a good sense of time, but I do know I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I have to get my ideas out before I just let them go away. That’s how ideas work. All the songs are written, we all just get them as gifts. And if you don’t act upon your ideas they’ll go to somebody else. I’ve seen so many ideas that I just sat on that other people have done years later, and I’m like, Wow, I could have done that. I just didn’t do it.
Do you feel like you learn from newer artists? Yeah, of course. I’m learning what people are listening to now. Learning what the younger heads are into. The funny thing about hip-hop—it’s such a young thing, just like rock and roll in certain ways, early rock and roll. Hip-hop is about being hip. And at a certain age, you’re not as hip to a certain crowd, and you lose hipness. And I think it’s a thing that people don’t talk about enough, but it’s a real thing. I have to ask my son sometimes, like, what’s cool? Make sure you don’t become that old flow guy. I’ve seen it happen and it’s a real thing. You know, people that I love and adore, their flows have just gotten dated, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s almost like watching your dad. Your dad moves to a completely different rhythm than what you move to. And that’s how flows are because we grew up on a different rhythm. And so the younger heads are growing up on different rhythms so they rap differently. I’m not trying to keep up with the younger guys at all. Right now, I’m just trying to—I’m basically an aging rapper just trying to have fun knowing that time is limited.
You haven’t really appeared in any music videos or performed live in awhile. Yeah. Well, when you’re at this age you go through this thing. Well, me personally—I go through this…do I still wanna do it? I’ve done it for years, since I was like 17, 18 years old. You try to find what you love to do, which I’m doing now. I never really knew if I wanted to step back into the arena, if I wanted to really be in the business. When I would get these calls from artists, I felt great about it. At the same time, I never wanted to tease people in a way where I’d be in the video and then they won’t see me for another ten years or anything. So, you know, when I would talk to these artists and we’d agree that we’d do these songs, we would all be in agreement that it was just vocals. There was no visual or anything. Every artist I work with from Beyonce, from Young Jeezy and Jay-Z, from BoB, it was all understood before my first rhyme was written that there was going to be no videos. And I always felt like—you know, I haven’t been in even in a video with Big Boi—it’s kind of disrespectful of me if I can just jump in a video with a new artist and I haven’t even jumped in the video with my own partner. So I always said, I’m not going to fully jump back into it until I really do it. I’m not going to play around. If it’s not my project or an Outkast thing, or you know, if I’m supporting Big Boi, then it just didn’t make sense for me. It just didn’t feel right doing it. So it’s a loyalty to myself and trying to make sure I really wanted to be in the business again.
Any time you do an interview or there’s an announcement about something that you’re doing that’s not Outkast, everyone asks about when the next Outkast project is coming. And every time, words get misconstrued, or casual statements get blown out of proportion. Is it difficult for you to have to talk about it every time? It’s expected. I guess the unfortunate thing is how the internet is today—is that it’s all about shock and it’s all about getting attention. So they always take out the parts that seem shocking and blast it. Sensationalize whatever they want to sensationalize. It’s always been, No, there are not any plans right now. We’re not on the roster or on a schedule with a label to put out an Outkast album. I can’t say if or when we will, but I’m going to be in Outkast forever in some kind of way. I can’t really say Outkast is over so it always trips me out when these things get on the internet, and [people] go, Andre said there’s going to be no more Outkast. And then me and Big Boi get on the phone like, Oh, that’s unfortunate that they said that kind of thing. But I just have to say that because we’re in the information age, and there’s a lot of misinformation—you may have tweets from somebody saying, I saw them together, or I saw them in the studio. And there even may be close friends that are just so excited about seeing me and Big Boi together, they may say we’re in the studio together. It’s totally not true. Like, I may stop by the studio to hear what Big Boi’s doing for his album, just to say hey as a friend and see what’s going on. And next thing you know it’s, Oh, they’re in the studio together. No, not at all. There’s no plans for an Outkast album right now. Next year will be 20 years as Outkast, which is—I’m still amazed at it. I’m happy that we’ve been around that long. Happy that we have people that still care about Outkast. There’s a lot of guys that came out around the same time that are not around anymore. So it’s really a blessing. So I think when I hear things on the internet that Outkast is over, I think, that’s a shame. Because I don’t have the power to stop Outkast, you know? I didn’t start Outkast by myself. I don’t have the power to stop Outkast. If we do another Outkast album one day, I would be super happy. Because I’ll know that the vibe is right, and we’ll put our all into it. But if we never do another Outkast album, you know, I won’t be sad because we’ve been blessed. We’ve been around.