Andre 3000 reinvented hip hop on his own and opened the door for the entire Dirty South genre. His influence is so widespread that even though he’s barely released any music in almost 20 years, every fan of hip hop new and old knows him. In December of 2019, Andre spoke to Rick Rubin on The Broken Record for a tell-all session about his legendary career, and their conversation was filled with creative gems. This Black History month we take a look at some of these timeless gems
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Challenges Lead To Growth
One moment that helped elevate Andre 3000 to the mainstream was The 1995 Source Awards. In ‘95 the battle between East Coast and West Coast was in full swing, but OutKast weren’t a part of that battle because they are a southern group (ATL represent). So when OutKast received the award for Best New Artist, they were met with boo’s and heckles from the crowd who believed the award belonged to someone on the East or West.
In the moment, Andre was heard and proclaimed “The South has something to say!” But how do you think Andre feels looking back almost 25 years later? Well, as he told Rick Rubin on The Broken Record:
- “It was the biggest blessing for us to have to just be better,” Andre said. “Have to fight and prove that we were really into what we were doing.”
How do you think struggle affects the growth of an artist? If someone is immediately revered as soon as they put out their first single do you think they will be particularly motivated to improve? Or do you think they will get comfortable?
OutKast were thrown in the middle of the most epic rap battle of all time. Repping the East you have Nas, Wu-Tang, Biggie, Jay-Z against Dre, Snoop, Tupac and Ice Cube on the West. These artists were in their prime at this point, and many of them are still dominating hip hop to this day. Yet OutKast came out on top without support from a region of the country. They came up on their own. Do you think they would have reached that point without such a tough challenge? Andre doesn’t. And Rick Rubin doesn’t either.
- “What’s interesting about it, too is that you did become better but you didn’t become at all like any of them. It really was completely original,” said Rick Rubin.
What made Andre 3000 rise despite being outside the East/West rivalry? No doubt his own talent and hard work contributed to it, but according to him, he wouldn’t have been anywhere without The Dungeon.
- “Our incubator. The Dungeon was basically a house…We were all in a basement. Drum machines. House speakers,” Andre says. “That was the place where you leave your job. Leave school. Come down there. You might smoke. You might talk about issues. But you were rapping.”
How does your environment affect your creativity? In 2021 people are lucky to be able to create anywhere, and yet people so often pine for a specific location. Could be a closet. Could be a lockout. Could be a professional studio. Where you work can support your creativity, and when you find the right place, you know it.
In the case of Andre, The Dungeon wasn’t just about the location itself.
- “I’m trading verses. Khujo over there trading verses. CeeLo come trade verses. At a certain point we started building our own slang so it became a world in itself. So we gain confidence in ourselves,” Andre says.
CeeLo is CeeLo Green. Khujo is Khujo of Goodie Mobb. Here’s the thing, though. Were they superstars when they were in The Dungeon? No. They were all up and comers. They had no idea where they would end up. Andre surrounded himself with fellow creatives in The Dungeon who all supported each other. Support your fellow creatives and anything can happen.
Equality In Creativity
So where is Andre now? Over the years he’s contributed several guest verses to artists like Anderson .Paak and Frank Ocean, and he already immortalized himself through Outkast, but can we expect anything from him in the future musically? At the time his interview with Rick Rubin was recorded (December 2019), the answer was no.
- “I haven’t been making much music. My focus is not there. My confidence is not there,” Andre says. “I’d like to, but it’s just not coming.”
How can that be? This is Andre 3000 we’re talking about. One of the most legendary musicians of all time? How can he not have confidence in his creativity? Because everyone is equal in creativity, and Andre’s words bring about two very important perspectives in that regard:
- Gratitude – What if tomorrow you are suddenly so unfocused and so lacking confidence that you can’t create? No matter how hard you try, the music isn’t coming? Be grateful for every moment you are channeling the creative muse.
- Self-Kindness – As Andre has proven, every artist goes through times where they just aren’t flowing. No matter how “experienced” or “successful” they may be. When you feel this way, be kind to yourself.