Andre 3000 had a thoughtful, compelling conversation with Will Welch for GQ Style, touching on the rapper’s move to New York, his battles with social anxiety, sex, the best rapper in OutKast, and the new generation of rappers.
It’s an expansive interview, and Andre also talks about parenting, celebrity, and realizing his mom was an actual person. 3 Stacks also alludes to some possible new music, comparing himself to Floyd Mayweather, saying he might have a couple more bouts left, “I think I have, like, maybe two more Mayweather fights… Or maybe one.”
While we all need a new Andre 3000 (or OutKast) project, Andre Benjamin was put on earth to deliver his wisdom to the masses. Let’s peep some of his choice quotes from the GQ Style interview.
On moving to New York
Andre recently moved from Atlanta to New York City because, like many NYC transplants, he was feeling stuck at home.
“I guess why most people move to New York City: a change, a new start. My kid went off to college, and my parents died—both of ’em within the last six years. I was like, I’ve kinda outlived Atlanta. It’s not like I go to the studio—I’m just sitting around wasting time and doing stuff I’m not supposed to be doing.”
Anyone that’s moved from their hometown to NYC knows this feeling.
Andre also loves being on the New York streets and facing people constantly has helped him deal with his social anxiety,
“I love the New York streets. I love walking, I love not having a car. It’s so dope. Part of my therapy—they call it cognitive therapy. It’s basically just another word for face that shit.”
On social anxiety
That social anxiety (although he doesn’t outright call it that) popped up when OutKast was first getting big and Andre had a hard time dealing with his newfound celebrity and being in the public eye.
“Yeah, that was part of my reason for coming [to New York]. I was diagnosed with this social thing. I didn’t notice it until I became an entertainer. I don’t know if it’s the shock of all kind of people coming up to you, or the expectations, but I got to this place where it was hard for me to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous.”
Andre said he first started noticing his anxiety during the recording of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2003 and he told Welch about isolating himself from friends and fans as a coping mechanism.
“Before that album [Speakerboxxx/The Love Below], I moved to California. It started a little bit before then, and I just chucked it off as Aw, yeah, man, I just need to take a break. 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. And it felt great for me to do that, because it’s like, Phew, I don’t like that life, I don’t like that confrontation.”
On writing about sex
Andre has always has this image of being ‘holier than thou’ due to his clean vegan diet that he maintained for 15 years (until recently). But that perception isn’t the reality, and he’s had some pretty ‘raw sex raps’ as Welch pointed out.
How does Andre balance his spirituality and sexuality? “We’re human. I try to find the goodness in the world and like, you know, I mean, even Jesus—Jesus had to get a little bit, you know what I mean?”
Besides being possibly the greatest quote of all-time, Andre makes an interesting point about sexuality and also wanting to be a good person for yourself and others. These two things are not mutually exclusive.
“I mean, I hate to say it like this, but Martin Luther King, he was out there, you know what I mean? Just because you have a natural urge and you follow it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t want the best for people and the best for yourself. And now, to be honest, when I write about sex, it’s more like: I’m on a time clock. I’m getting older, so you want to get it all in.”
Martin Luther King was indeed out here.
On his partner Big Boi
Andre is often presented as the cerebral member of OutKast whereas Big Boi is thought of as the more ‘street’ of the two. Most of this is just bullshit due to their different musical styles, the media narrative isn’t the reality at all.
3 Stacks had nothing but love and admiration for the way Big Boi handled himself in the industry.
“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 our second album, 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 fucking rapper.”
To that end, Andre dropped out of high school in 11th grade… Big Boi graduated honors.
“Big Boi is smart as fuck. 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.
He also claimed that Big Boi can rap better than him.
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 shit? You can’t have thoughts in a battle—nobody gives a shit about that.”
Big Boi is definitely more of the prototypical ‘battle rapper’ but ultimately comparing the two is a fool’s errand. What makes OutKast so successful is the contrast in styles between Big Boi and Andre.
On the new generation of rappers
You already know every interview with an ‘old head’ in hip-hop has to eventually address the new generation of rappers. Instead of getting all crotchety about the new school rappers taking over, Andre actually feels inspired by them.
“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 when working with these new kids, Andre 3000 claimed that it kinda just makes him feel old.
“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… That’s what hip-hop is all about. It’s a new-kids’ art.”
Andre went on to explain his feelings that hip-hop is about freshness.
“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. 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.”
Man, Andre 3000 is a damn hip-hop philosopher. We couldn’t be any more desperate for the alleged one or two ‘Mayweather fights’ he has in him.
Shoutout Andre 3000 forever.