Catching Up With Andre 3000
Andre 3000, one of a handful of rappers who can legitimately claim to being one of the best ever, has delighted and flummoxed us for years. We can only speculate on the reasons why.
Every so often, Andre Three Stacks teases us with a handful of guest appearances on other artists' songs. On the surface, that's no big deal: When a rapper is hot, like Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, he can generate dozens of cameo appearances in less than a year. But when Andre blesses a track, it's still a major event, because his group, OutKast, has been silent since 2006's uneven Idlewild soundtrack (and the inarguably bad movie it accompanied). The duo didn't necessarily go out on top, but their string of classic albums (matched only by Kanye West) has left us hungry for fresh material, whether it's a new Big Boi solo project like 2010's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, or an odd verse from 'Dre.
It doesn't hurt that Andre 3000's guest appearances tend to be terrific in that casual, offhand manner that only he and his inimitable ATL drawl can manage. His verse made Devin the Dude's "What a Job" one of the best Southern rap songs of the past decade. He gets on such a roll when he woos a girl during the bridge of John Legend's "Green Light," that he chuckles at his audaciousness and makes us laugh, too. And he made rap fans actually listen to a Ke$ha song, "Sleazy 2.0 Get Sleazier" (though we really didn't want to). There is Jay-Z's "30 Something (Remix)," BeyoncÃ©'s "Party," and Drake's "The Real Her"... perhaps the only time another rapper outshined Andre 3000 is on an "Interlude" from Lil Wayne's The Carter IV, when Tech N9ne speed-rapped a burner verse. Even legends have their off days.
In July, two more Andre verses appeared. For Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter," he remembers a woman who "had the kind of body that would probably intimidate/ Any of them that were un-Southern/ Not me cousin/ If models are made for modeling/ Thick girls are made for cuddling." Rick Ross' "Sixteen" finds him tortured over the concept of a 16-bar verse, and how he can't fit what he has to say in such a short frame of time. Andre also plays guitar on both tracks, perhaps as a way of promoting his upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic. On "Sixteen" in particular, he attempts a stilted, Hendrix-like solo with a few strummed notes and a little reverb.
Such goofiness is to be expected from Andre Three Stacks -- after all, this is the guy whose only official solo album to date is a little-promoted children's record, 2007's Class of 3000. In fact, it's what we love about him.