Amidst a series of ongoing will they or won't they — in reference to another OutKast album — André 3000 has kept it fairly quiet on the music front for the better part of a decade. He has lent several fire guest verses to some lucky individuals, but for the most part, three stacks has remained in his own little world in recent years, as eluded to by GQ's Will Welch.
Welch had the opportunity to get together with the veteran musician for a special piece for GQ Style. During their time with one another, André dished on moving to New York, being in a personal and creative hole, his famous MTV VMA “Hey Ya!” performance, a line of Anita Baker tees, working with Tretorn, and more.
See below for some excerpts from the recent André 3000 interview, then visit GQ Style for more.
On moving to New York City:
"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."
On being stuck in a hole:
"I was in all three holes. I was in a creative hole, a personal hole, and I was still not dealing with my mom’s and my father’s deaths. And really, I don’t know if I have still. You know: Just push that away. The problem with being successful is you can do whatever you do times ten. And no one to stop you. You can easily go down the wrong path and you get into that place. And the thing that brings you out is other people."
On his famous “Hey Ya!” performance at the MTV Video Music Awards:
"So if you’re watching the “Hey Ya!” video or that performance, I was really nervous. So it made me just move really fast. In the “Hey Ya” video, I didn’t make that shit up like a routine or anything. They were just like, Go! And I’m like, All right. Fuck. [moves fast] And of course that’s what people responded to. And I hated it. So after those times, it was like, All right, I’m done."
On wanting to launch a line of Anita Baker T-shirts:
"Well, my mom used to work in a beauty salon. She did nails and had a little booth, and at a beauty salon, there’s always somebody coming in and selling something, be it cologne, or stolen clothes, or phones that last like a month. And a guy came in, back in the day, with a box of cassettes—my mom purchased these Anita Baker bootlegs. She played them all the time at home, and I started to realize, like, Whoa, I enjoy this."
"As you get older, the people you love pop back up. I was going through an Anita Baker phase, and I started trying to buy a T-shirt. So I go on the Internet and I find this site that had shirts with photos of Anita on them. So I bought two or three of them. Then when I got ’em in the mail, they were like—the part of the shirt where the picture was printed on there was so hard."
"It feels like this big piece of wood on your chest. So it’s like, 'Man, this clearly has to be bootleg.' I felt bad about it, because it’s like, I know Anita ain’t got shit to do with these shirts."
"I’m an artist, and I’m buying bootleg shirts of another artist, so I felt bad. So I was like, maybe, so my conscience feels good, let me try to find an address for Anita and send her a little check. And it’ll be a joke, like, 'Anita, I just bought these shirts, I feel bad about it, here’s $50.' Then I started thinking, Wouldn’t it be great to design a line of Anita Baker tees and present the line to Anita? Maybe she needs some merch."
On feeling like he's put out enough music:
"If I were to drop dead right now, honestly, we’ve done it. And that’s the truth. You know what I mean? Here’s the only thing that I would regret: Man, you know, there is still that album that you wanted to do."
"When I pass away, people will find hours and hours of files."
"Yeah, hard drives and shit. It’s hard drives of me just in the house alone playing horrible guitar. Me playing piano. Me playing a little sax. I was trying to find out: What can I be excited about? Because I never was, to me, a great producer or a great writer or a great rapper. I always felt that I was less than everybody else, so I fought harder. My only gauge to know when something was good was how I felt it. Like, Oh, man, this is dope. Or, This is new. So I got to a place where nothing excited me."
On his sex raps:
"What’s funny is this idea that people have of me as being straight-edge. My homie Cee-Lo, from Goodie Mob, he has this joke. He’s like, “Man, I don’t know why these women think we’re sitting cross-legged with incense like some Buddhists, praying with our hands. I mean, we out here fucking these bitches.” [laughs]
"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?"
"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."