"I've been interested in winds for a long time, so it was just a natural progression for me to go into flutes," said the Outkast rapper of 'New Blue Sun'
André 3000 is best known for his work in Outkast, having earned chart-topping hits like "Ms. Jackson," "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move" as one-half of the Grammy-winning hip-hop duo alongside Big Boi. He's also rapped alongside the likes of Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Rick Ross and Erykah Badu but never released an album of his own until now — and it's not what anyone expected.
On Tuesday, André announced his debut solo album New Blue Sun — a body of work entirely made up of instrumental woodwind music. Set to drop on Friday, the 8-track set marks a far cry from his previous creative output, which he's well-aware of. (And don't worry: he's not leaving the rap genre for good.)
"I've been interested in winds for a long time, so it was just a natural progression for me to go into flutes," André, 48, who previously showed off his woodwind skills on the Outkast's 2003 track "She Lives in My Lap" as well as 2019's "Where's the Catch?" with James Blake, in a statement.
The "Roses" performer knows fans have been wanting him to release a full-length rap album throughout his decades-long career, which he references in the 12-minute opening track's title: “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a Rap Album But This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time.”
In another press statement, André said there's a "misconception" among his fans that a solo rap album will never see the light of day. "I think people feel like I'm sitting around on rap albums, or sitting around and I'm just not putting them out in that way. And no it's not like that," he explained.
"In my mind, I really would like to make a rap album," admitted André. "So maybe that happens one day, but I got to find a way to say what I want to say in an interesting way that's appealing to me at this age."
While his clever lyricism isn't present in this album, André wanted to give fans something familiar to connect with on New Blue Sun, so he crafted many tongue-in-cheek track titles such as, "The Slang Word P(*)ssy Rolls Off the Tongue with Far Better Ease Than the Proper Word Vagina. Do You Agree?"
He explained in a statement, "A lot of times I think people, especially Black people in the hood, look at it like, ‘Oh, them people over there.' It's like a separation. And that's why with the song titles, we kind of kept it playful a lot of times. Or we got a little raw because I wanted to still feel light at times. Or give it some type of balance, make it just attractive for people to come in.”
In an interview with NPR's All Songs Considered podcast upon the album's announcement, André spoke further about not wanting to catch fans off-guard with the genre departure of his upcoming album.
"I don't want to troll people. I don't want people to think, 'Oh, this André 3000 album is coming!' And you play it and like, 'Oh man, no verses.' So even actually on the packaging, you'll see it says, 'Warning: no bars,'" he told the outlet.
"It's letting you know what it is off the top. But also, I love rap music because it was a part of my youth. So I would love to be out here with everybody rapping, because it's almost like fun and being on the playground," added the musician. "I would love to be out here playing with everybody, but it's just not happening for me."
He declared of New Blue Sun, "This is the realest thing that's coming right now. Not to say that I would never do it again, but those are not the things that are coming right now. And I have to present what's given to me at the time."
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