André 3000 Announces Long-Awaited First Solo Album, But There’s a Twist

In 2003, already-iconic Atlanta rap duo OutKast released their now-diamond-certified double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. However, as opposed to their previous LPs where both André 3000 and Big Boi would rap together on most songs, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below instead combined two solo projects by each OutKast member, with Speakerboxxx serving as Big Boi’s portion and The Love Below being André’s.

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Since this moment, the hip-hop community has been crying out for each of them to put out their own official solo albums, particularly André. And now, two decades removed, OutKast stans’ wishes have finally been granted. Well, sort of.

On Tuesday (November 14), André announced that his debut solo album New Blue Sun will be released on November 17. However, soon after unveiling this, an exclusive interview with NPR revealed that the album will be an entirely instrumental project, where André will showcase his flute-playing skills instead of his rapping.

“I’ve been interested in winds for a long time, so it was just a natural progression for me to go into flutes,” he told NPR. “I just like messing with instruments and I gravitated mostly toward wind.”

While this is a disappointment to many fans, it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to us if we had truly been keeping up with André over the last decade. And here’s why.

In 2014, while rumors swirled regarding a solo album, André sat down for an interview with the New York Times. In their conversation, he noted that he’d “love to put out an album,” but that “melodies come more for me than raps” when he would write songs.

Not much came from this, though, and André would stick to making feature appearances on songs by Kanye West, Travis Scott, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, Solange, A Tribe Called Quest, and more. Then, in June 2019, André was spotted by NPR radio producer Antonia Cereijido in an airport. According to Cereijido, he was playing the flute by himself for 40 minutes while awaiting his flight.

“I saw a man walking around my terminal playing a flute for 40min and was losing my mind because I thought it was André 3000,” she wrote on Twitter. “And then it WAS André 3000!!!”

A month later, André was spotted again playing the flute in Philadelphia, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. As noted in the report, André was walking all around the city with his beloved woodwind instrument and stopped to chat with fans who noticed him.

As summer turned to fall in 2019, though, André’s OutKast teammate Big Boi denied reports that André had an album in the works.

“He was probably playing some music, but he’s not working on a record,” Big Boi told 92.3 Home Grown Radio. “He’s been recording songs for years. Kinda recording, kinda just stacking up, but structured record? Not yet.”

But, even though a rap album was not on André’s mind, he was still in love with his flute.

In September 2020, Jeff Staple, head of a New York-based agency named Staple Design, ran into André on the street as he was touting his flute for all to see. Then in December, a video of André playing the flute surfaced, posted by record label A&R Joya Williams.

By this point, it had become clear that André was much more of a flutist than a rapper. But still, the hope for a rap album from the ATL legend has never died.

Earlier this year, Killer Mike accidentally revived these hopes, telling the Sway’s Universe radio show that he and André had been making music together and that André was crafting a studio album.

“I think we fly out in a couple weeks to go listen to it,” Mike said about the potential project. “He does (have an album on the way).”

However, he soon recanted this decree days later, explaining that he was “stoned out of my mind playing, teasing with y’all.”

[RELATED: The 11 Best Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 of Outkast) Quotes]

This seemed to cause fans to give up on their dream and disarm themselves a bit. An André 3000 solo album was viewed to be as likely as a cold day in Hell.

That’s why Tuesday’s announcement was a shocker on two fronts. One because fans had pretty much stopped believing in an André 3000 LP, and two because it was a damned flute album and not a rap album.

Regardless, though, André’s impending project will still be a mouthpiece for his brilliant artistry and will be the first time in a long time that he’s released music as a lead artist.

“It’s therapeutic to be in that setting and playing and having to be fully in the moment,” he told NPR about New Blue Sun. “Don’t think about the future, don’t think about the past. There’s something about knowing that this was created without any of the people knowing what was coming. It’s just beautiful to hear a natural happening.”

Additionally, André still thinks a rap album from him is possible. But of course, he can’t give a timetable for it, yet.

“There’s this misconception that I just won’t do it,” he added about releasing a hip-hop project. “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… In my mind, I really would like to make a rap album. 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.”

So, as we wait for this to happen, it would be foolish for us to dismiss André’s new flute-playing endeavors. Especially because of the spontaneous, whimsical nature of its release.

Check out the peculiar song names for the New Blue Sun track list below.

1. “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A “Rap” Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time”

2. “The Slang Word P(*)ssy Rolls Off The Tongue With Far Better Ease Than The Proper Word Vagina . Do You Agree?”

3. “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”

4. “BuyPoloDisorder’s Daughter Wears A 3000™ Button Down Embroidered”

5. “Ninety Three ‘Til Infinity And Beyoncé”

6. “Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Your Lord & Savior J.C. / Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, And John Wayne Gacy”

7. “Ants To You, Gods To Who ?”

8. “Dreams Once Buried Beneath The Dungeon Floor Slowly Sprout Into Undying Gardens”

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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