Who’s your favorite rapper of all time? Jay-z, Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G? For me, it’s Andre 3000, one half of the Grammy winning rap duo, Outkast. In fact, Andre is considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers of all time, despite never dropping a solo album in his career. That is until now… but it’s not what you think. On November 17, Andre Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000, dropped his first ever solo album, titled “new blue sun.” But here’s the catch— it’s not a rap album. Instead, it’s an 87 minute collection of mostly improvised woodwind and percussion music.
While it doesn’t have any rap, it’s still very much an Andre 3000 album. Those familiar with 3 stack’s eccentric persona may not be very surprised by this decision. For years, the rapper has been spotted in public places like airports and coffee shops playing a native flute. So this new project seems like a natural next step. And just like Andre’s bars, the woodwind melodies in this album are loose, hard to define, and almost hypnotic. I’d even argue that many of the songs in Outkast’s catalog featured hints of this new musical direction for Andre. From the ambient intro on “Aquemini,” to the catchy trumpet line in “Spottieottiedopaliscious” you can hear the beginnings of Andre’s more atmospheric and experimental tendencies. The album toes the line between chaos and order and somehow finds a peaceful in between. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of Outkast’s more atmospheric deep cuts, you might want to throw this album on as you meditate, go for a walk, or nod off to sleep.
It’s great to have any kind of new music from Andre, but my biggest takeaway from this album is not the music itself, but the door it opens. If Andre 3000 is confident enough in his music to drop an album of experimental flute, who’s to say he won’t ever release a new rap album? Or maybe even another Outkast record? He clearly wants to make new music, and wants it to be heard and enjoyed. Even the name of the first track alludes to this. It’s called “I swear I really wanted to make a ‘rap’ album but this is literally the way the wind blew me this time.” If by “this time” he means “new blue sun,” then I can’t wait to see what happens next time.