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For the first time in 17 years, André 3000 is releasing a new album. But his first work since he and Big Boi disbanded Outkast, the highest-selling hip-hop duo in history, won’t be what fans are expecting.
New Blue Sun, which drops November 17, is an eight-track, 87-minute work of ambient woodwind compositions. It's free of lyrics and filled with a variety of flutes and digital wind instruments. The title of the album’s first song, “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time,” explicitly addresses the shift.
The 48-year-old artist reported in a GQ cover story that he’s had a hard time coming up with new rap songs, despite public speculation. “I’ve worked with some of the newest, freshest, youngest, and old-school producers. I get beats all the time. I try to write all the time,” André admitted. “Even now people think, ‘Oh, man, he’s just sitting on raps, or he’s just holding these raps hostage.’ I ain’t got no raps like that.”
On top of a lack of inspiration, André says he’s gotten to a point in his life where rapping feels at odds with his reality. “Sometimes it feels inauthentic for me to rap because I don’t have anything to talk about in that way. I’m 48 years old. Not to say that age is a thing that dictates what you rap about, but in a way it does.”
He continued: “Things that happen in my life, like, what are you talking about? ‘I got to go get a colonoscopy.’ What are you rapping about? ‘My eyesight is going bad.’ You can find cool ways to say it, but…,” he trailed off.
André revealed that Big Boi is ready to get back into the touring game as Outkast, but he continuously decides not to retread old ground. It comes out of not wanting to disrespect the groundbreaking work they did earlier in their career.
“To make it into an entertaining song to where it’s just not self-serving or it’s not just—like there’s a part of entertaining someone else too,” André explained. “Look at the greatest boxers now. What do they do? They do exhibition fights every now and then, but they’re not stepping in the ring. You know what I mean?”
Other songs on New Blue Sun include “That Night In Hawaii When I Turned Into A Panther And Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control ... Sh¥t Was Wild,” and “Dreams Once Buried Beneath The Dungeon Floor Slowly Sprout Into Undying Gardens.”
New Blue Sun hits stores and streamers on November 17. You can purchase both digital copies and vinyl LPs on André 3000’s website.