For the past 17 years, André 3000’s has gained the moniker of being hip-hop’s most elusive figure. Since the release of the biggest-selling rap album of all-time, “Speakerboxx/Love Below,” and the “Idlewild” soundtrack, André 3000 has only dabbled in hip-hop by appearing as a guest feature on songs from other artists. His most recent offering being the Grammy-nominated “Scientists and Engineers” by Killer Mike.
The sporadic guest verses would leave rap fans craving for the return of OutKast or, at least, a solo project from André 3000.
On the morning of Nov. 14, André 3000 announced the release of his first solo project, “New Blue Sun.”
But while fans of André 3000 have anticipated this moment for years, it’s not a conventional rap album. The project doe not feature rhymes, beats, or lyrical melodies. It’s a musical journey of André 3000 playing contrabass flute, Mayan flutes, bamboo flutes and other digital wind instruments.
The album’s first song, “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time,” provides a hint of where André 3000 is musically.
And although “New Blue Sun” is not a rap album, it’s still an important moment for hip-hop.
In Hip-Hop’s 50th year, André 3000 continues to push boundaries 30 years after the release of OutKast’s debut album, Southernplaylistic. The group developed a brand of going against the grain of whatever was popular in hip-hop. Using elements of spoken word “Spottieottiedopaliscious”; jazz “My Favorite Things”; and rock “Gasoline Dreams”; Outkast never remained confined within the unspoken rules of hip-hop.
It became a testament of being unafraid to be an outlier in a genre that often thrives on the specifics. Urban kids can dream and experiment while remaining connected to culture.
It’s that same element of doing the impossible which continues to make Atlanta stand out above the fray. A southern city that embraces the notion of being unapologetically Black while embracing progressive ideologies in community, business and culture.
And although André 3000 now mostly resides in Venice, California, the impact of Atlanta and hip-hop will always remain. André 3000 shared how his new music collaborators reflect the same energy of the Dungeon Family, the crew that was birthed in the Lakewood community of Atlanta.
“In the same way, when you talk about Carlos Niño and Nate Mercero and Surya Botofasina and this whole community of players, it gives you an opportunity and support system to be as free as you can be,” Andre´3000 said in an interview with NPR’s Rodney Carmichael. “And you need to feel comfortable in a situation to be really free. And that’s why I really champion crews, like even rap crews. It’s important for your crew to be supportive of you because you can be the best you can be. I wouldn’t be able to play flute or any of this stuff. I wouldn’t have produced any of this if it wasn’t for the Dungeon. So, the Dungeon was the dirt. That’s the ground that we planted everything in and all of those members in the Dungeon Family — Goodie Mob, Organized Noize, Big Boi, everybody — created an environment for me to be able to, like, just go.”
“New Blue Sun” will be released on Friday.