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André 3000 on His New Album and Life After Outkast: The GQ Video Cover Story

It’s been years since the rap legend released new music. Now, on his own creative terms, he’s unveiling his first solo project—and talking candidly about where he’s been, how he’s changed, and why he made a record that nobody could have expected. Director: Noel Howard Director of Photography: Carter Ross Editor: Phil Ceconi Talent: Andre 3000; Zach Baron Producer: Sam Dennis Senior Producer: Annee Elliot Line Producer: Jen Santos Production Manager: Andressa Pelachi; Kevin Balash Talent Booker: Dana Mathews; Ernesto Macias Camera Operator: John Weselcouch Assistant Camera: Caroline Vazquez; Raquel Wajner Gaffer: Jon Corum Grip: Matt Krueger; Dominik Czaczyk Sound Mixer: Kari Barber Production Assistant: Fernando Barajas; Masana Cornish; Brock Spitaels; Paul Draper; Robby Fiore; Micky Hohl Andre Groomer: Iman Thomas Zach Groomer: Vanessa Rene Production Designer: Cedar Jocks Post Production Supervisor: Rachael Knight Post Production Coordinator: Ian Bryant Supervising Editor: Rob Lombardi Assistant Editor: Billy Ward Designer: Michael Houtz

Released on 11/15/2023


[flute playing]

I like seasoned, seasoned food.

I hate bland food, so I season my clothes a lot.

[flute playing]

One of my homies told me after I finished Hey Ya!

and I played it for him, he said,

Man, if you put that out, man,

your career is over.

[both laughing]

[flute playing]

That's one of the coolest things about the recording.

I'm actually listening to myself be a baby at something,

you know, be a baby at this new machine

that I've never touched.

[flute playing]

This feels like '80s doctor's office.

[laughing] I think it's cozier than that.

Psychiatrist's office. Psychiatrist's office,

there we go.

[flute playing]

That's amazing, man.

Oh, thank you, man.

[machine whirring]

What's up, man? What's up?

Bring it in, bring it in.

[Zach] I like the shirt. Oh, thank you.

Thank you very much. Cool, cool.

Yeah, you know, stripes.

Just trying to be like you. It's stripe time.

Get your stripes, yeah, yeah.

We should make it clear

that you actually use this laundromat.

Yeah, yeah.

This is a laundromat not too far from my house.

How'd you end up out here?

I was making a move from New York,

and it was really supposed to be a six month kind of reset,

you know, come to California, get some sun.

Hey. Hey, what is that?

I got it from a Ramses the Great museum in San Fran.

We went to this thing

and I bought this just as. And now he's just

the laundry guard. He hangs out.

I sit him in the window sill of my car.

Me and my son kind of like, I think Seven may have put

just a plain rubber duck, and then when I saw this one,

I was like, Yeah. That's beautiful.

We're gonna freak it, like that's the Egyptian one.

Yeah, and it's like your son a little bit with you too,

which is beautiful. Yeah.

I think people would be surprised

to know that you go to a laundromat to do your laundry.

Yeah, but only for that kind of convenience,

and it's fun for me because it gives me a chance

to be out in the world.

When I'm putting clothes in the dryer,

I usually go out in the alley and practice.

I play my instrument out in the alley,

and it's just something to do

to get out in the sun a little bit.

[Zach] What is important about being out in the world?

Meeting people.

I met this old lady here.

She was from Vienna.

I had my bass clarinet at the time,

and I was kind of playing, and she says,

The music that you're playing,

it reminds me of my old country.

We sparked up a real cool friendship, and she was like,

If you come here next Saturday,

I'll bring you all of my old record collection

of classical music from Vienna.

And she told me a time to meet her,

but unfortunately I was late,

and so when I came, she wasn't around, so I hadn't seen her,

so I'm hoping she's still alive, you know?

[Zach] Do people clock that it's you when you're here?

Nah, she ain't know who I was.

It's kind of like some people may recognize and be like,

Oh man, that's cool, but it's not crazy.

I kind of like where my life is

where I can come and do this, you know what I mean?

A lot of my contemporaries, I kind of feel bad for them,

because we got children, and sometimes some of these people

can't even go out without having paparazzi follow them.

It's like, that's a whack-ass life, man.

I kind of like some normalcy, even though it's not normal,

but I came from that.

I used to hang out at the laundromat

when we didn't have a washer and dryer at our house.

My mom worked at the beauty salon,

so it's like I'm in these places.

Social kind of situation, you know?

[Zach] Yeah.

When you say normalcy, what do you mean by that?

Walk with your family and not have people follow you

and chase you.

You can't take your kid to the park and play because people

[Zach] will follow you. Was your life

ever like that?

At certain times.

I think maybe at the height of OutKast,

over years of letting it simmer a little bit.

I'm older now, so a lot of people, they see me like,

You look like him, but nah, nah, that ain't 3000.

It's funny, because it's like when you're 19,

you're probably working towards anything but normal.

You're working towards. That's so funny.

Let's be successful.

Let's see where this can go,

and then you spend the back end of it

trying to work your way back.

There's life you want what you want

'til you don't want it.

Me and Big Boi used to literally pray every night,

Lord, really, really, we just want to be good rappers.

That was our prayer.

It was called a rapper's prayer.

Lord, we really just want to be good rappers,

and we did that, and it's kind of like,

now we're seeing that it's happened.

I love that it's happened.

I don't regret any of that, but it's kind of like

now that I'm at a certain level,

I miss certain things about normalcy.

I'm an only child,

so I've always kind of been to myself anyway.

I kind of like my solitary, kind of chill life,

and I think you do have a choice.

But you could still live the other way if you wanted to.

Are you ever tempted to?

That's the problem, the balance.

I do have an urge, because I want to create things.

I'm happiest when I'm creating things.

I was talking to my manager and publicist.

I had to really ask myself,

Do you want to possibly be famous again?

Do you want to turn it up again?

And I was like, Eh, I'll just put the record out

and just don't do any press for it or anything like that.

But then it's kind of a disservice to the music,

because I want people to check it out.

I want people to hear it.

I had to find some balance.

[flute playing]

We've been a little coy.

You have a whole flute album now.

I wouldn't call it a flute album.

It's an album, but I am playing wind instruments.

Sometimes it's native flutes,

sometimes it's digital wind instruments,

which I actually discovered

right before we started recording the album.

Some of the song which you're hearing,

you're hearing me go through patches on the instrument,

and you can hear me figuring the instrument out.

So it's new, which I thought was really cool.

To me, that's one of the coolest things about the recording.

I'm actually listening to myself be a baby at something,

you know?

Be a baby at this new machine that I've never touched.

A document of this exists.

It has a name. Yes, New Blue Sun.

New Blue Sun is the album.

Many people will ask why a woodwind album?

I ask myself why anything.

Why did we record these albums before in my career?

It's just kind of, those are the things that came.

I would say it probably just felt more real

and authentic to me.

I don't stop trying things.

I always try recordings and I try vocal things.

I even try to jot down ideas and lyrics here and there,

but none of that excited me.

It kind of felt like I'm trying to do a thing,

you know what I mean?

I don't like when I'm trying to do a thing.

It just felt inauthentic,

and this felt like the realist I could be at the time.

People who pay close attention know

that you're creating all the time.

This is the first thing, though,

that actually is making it out in the world.

I've actually played some wind things

that I've put out in the world

that I call myself another name, under different artists

that are out there that I've just kind of,

testing it out in a way.

Wait, so you have anonymous wind recordings

out there already? Yes, yes.

From known artists. Really?

And they've been cool about keeping it secret.

I wasn't sure how to present the wind thing,

because I would just be on the street and play.

I play in nature a lot.

I just play hiking, walking in the city, wherever.

What started to happen was people started

kind of filming me on the cell phones and posting it

and making beats out of it, which is cool to me.

But yeah, I was trying to find a way,

how can I share my love for discovering this wind instrument

with more people?

Where it's just not this kind of Where's Waldo,

there's this dude playing kind of thing.

So in approaching, I knew I wanted to do a wind-based album,

but I didn't really know what I wanted to sound like.

I had influences, I had ideas

and I kept trying. What were the influences?

Influences ranging from Coltrane to Philip Glass

to Steve Reich.

It's a very intimate record.

I've heard it.

It's like getting a very luxurious and expensive

but very tender mental massage.

Ah, nice.

I'll take it.

I describe it as just pure, like breathing and living,

and the way it was recorded,

it was all improv and spontaneous, so we were living it.

What you hear on the record is how we heard it

as we were doing it.

It wasn't planned.

It wasn't like, Hey, we're gonna do this,

we're gonna do these chords and we're gonna,

we only talked about feeling, you know?

[coins pinging]

[Zach] Are you apprehensive?

Very, very, very apprehensive.

Do you feel like that played into decisions

you made about OutKast too?

I think just in general, when it came to figuring out

what we would do creatively and where my creative juice

is coming from within OutKast,

there was a certain point

where I just didn't know where else to go.

You know, I didn't, like even now, people think,

Oh man, he's just sitting on raps

or he's just holding, or holding these raps hostage.

I ain't got no raps like that.

It actually feels, 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, and not to say that age is a thing

that dictates what you rap about, but in a way it does.

Things that happen in my life, like what do you talk,

like I gotta go get a colonoscopy.

What do you rap about?

My eyesight is going bad?

But you're not just any rapper.

You're a top five to many people.

To me, you're basically being like,

I have a very beautiful sports car in the garage,

but I choose never to drive it, you know?

Which is your talent.

Talent is one thing, but honestly it's I think timing

and momentum is more important than talent,

and the energy of it.

Talent, it's a lot of people with talent,

and we're seeing that now.

There's so many dope people on the internet

that are just raw, but it's your timing.

It's what you're talking about.

It's if you're catching the zeitgeist

of what's happening in the world,

and my goal is I want to connect.

I'm not talking about nothing that I can't connect with.

[Zach] Have you tried? It's no use.

Yeah, I try all the time.

I'm open to producers now, like the young producers,

and I get beats all the time.

People send me songs like they get on remixes

and stuff like that, but I don't be knowing

what to talk about most of the time, you know?

Do you think that's about expectations,

or lack of self-belief?

Where do you think that comes from?

I think you are your best and worst critic,

and I only work on feeling.

Feeling is my only barometer of what I'm doing.

I don't feel like I'm the best rapper.

I don't feel like I'm the best producer.

I don't feel like I'm the best singer, actor, none of that.

It's just for me, my gauge is feeling.

That's always been that way, even within OutKast.

If it felt right, I ain't care what other people thought.

If it felt right, it was like,

I ain't gonna argue with what it feel like,

and if it don't feel right to me,

which it hasn't in a while when it comes to rapping

or vocal type of music, I don't do it.

The song is more important.

The music is more important.

[Zach] I was looking at the song titles.

I wanted to ask you about a few.

[Andre] Yeah, for sure.

The first song is called I Swear, I Really Wanted

To Make A Rap Album, rap in quotation marks,

But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time.

In my mind, I would love to make a rap album.

I would love to make a rap album,

but this is what came at this time and it felt authentic.

One of the things that's so great about you

as a rapper is the directness

and the way that you would talk about your life.

So when you say yesterday,

I don't know what to talk about now,

I was like, How is that possible?

I was once in the studio with an artist,

a younger artist, Tyler, the Creator,

and we were talking about rapping as you're old.

I was kind of telling Tyler, I was like,

Man, I just don't know what,

I'd rather write a book or something at this point.

I don't know.

Like, You gotta do it.

And I was like, Why?

He was like, Because it shows us what we can do

when we get to that age.

But 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.

I know I joked about you having to go get a colonoscopy

and all this kind of stuff,

and that's a real thing in my life,

but to make that into a song.

Why not?

Like, yeah, of course,

but I gotta make it into a song

that feels good as a song.

But your track record as making people feel good

through song is. Track record is one thing.

The right now is a whole other.

I can't put anything else out in the world

if I'm not excited about it,

because how can I expect you to be excited about it?

How can I expect you to think, Oh, this is raw,

oh, this is fresh, if I don't feel that way?

What's that saying that drug addicts say?

They say, Well, the longer I'm out of it,

the better chances I have of staying out of it.

[laughing] That's not what America wants to hear.

No, I understand, but it feels that way.

As I keep going, it's like you keep slowing down, too.

People don't understand

that there's a physicalness to rapping.

I always say it's like being a boxer.

You gotta think it's actually

like being a boxer. Don't you think

the genre's big enough to encompass all of that?

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 ring.

[Zach] You know what I mean? What if rapping

wasn't boxing? Oh, but it is, though.

That's what I'm saying.

It is partly physical, partly mental.

When boxers, when they're about to fight,

they have to train.

So if I were to make a rap album,

the best thing I could probably do

is just be around rappers,

you know what I mean? But that's not

part of your life right now, really?


It's not even like, I don't even like going to the studio

and just hanging out with niggas smoking all day.

I just don't.

[Zach] It's gotta be weird to have all that energy

directed toward you, people coming up to you on the street

or whatever and being like, Do this, do this, do this,

and you're like, I'm not gonna do it.

I wish I could

[Zach] answer them, man. That's a lot

of cosmic pressure being brought to bear on you.

It is, and to that point, that title, the first song.

I'm kind of addressing it in a way.

[Zach] Yeah, I think so.

For me, washing is kind of like cooking.

I like seasoned, seasoned food.

I hate bland food, so I season my clothes a lot.

[Zach] We're in our uniform now, is that right?

Yeah, I guess you definitely can call it a uniform.

It's easy for me.

It's kind of like, even when I look around now

and I look at kind of what's happening in the world,

everybody turned up in the late '90s and 2000s.

Our contemporaries were looking at us crazy,

like, Who are y'all?

Y'all are from another planet.

Now the planet is here.

[Zach] All the kids. That's true.

Are turned up, you know what I mean?

Which is beautiful.

I just love this workwear, kind of stripes,

and these overalls, they're very comfortable.

I call them adult baby clothes.

You just feel really comfortable and snug

and you have places to put your hands.

[Zach] This is yours, these overalls.


[Zach] What is the brand called?

From Now On, They Will Have No Choice

But to Call Us The Ants.

This is a workwear brand for sure,

and like when you look at ants,

it's like they're always working.

I'm at the stage where I'm loving to do things

with my hands, and things that I can do

when I'm 75 years old or when I'm 80 years old.

And the outfit reflects that.


I mean, I don't think about clothing.

I'm at work, like I'm actually drawing or painting in these.

I still love it that the young kids,

they'll come up like, Oh man, your fit is fresh.

I'm like, Oh, okay.

Thank you, man.

Do you feel like the uniform is a reminder to yourself

about the differences between now

and say like the year 2000?

It's actually the opposite.

It's not a reminder at all.

It's a forgetting.

I don't have time to think about clothing.

Some people go into fashion, fashion.

I want to be free and do all these things.

There's certain freedom in that too,

but there's also a freedom

in not having to think about it at all.

[Zach] What do you do while you wait usually

when you're here?

[Andre] I usually go in the alley and I play.

I don't mean to be forward or ask for the art for free,

but could we do that?

I'm at a point now, like if somebody in the street

were to ask me like, Man, could you rap?

Could you say something?

It'd feel weird.

I have to get my mind, like, you have to get in rap mind

or rap mode.

But when people ask me, Hey, can you play?

[Zach] I'm like, Yeah, let's go. Let's go.

[Andre] Yeah, let's go.


[flute playing]

That's amazing, man. Oh, thank you.

I'm just kind of feeling what's happening at the time,

so I'm just kind of making it up as I go.

Even the new album was completely improv and made up,

just a discovery path every time,

so you never know what patterns you'll play.

You never know what melodies you're gonna play.

You're on the tightrope at that point,

so it's like you gotta do something.

It's very interesting that I've never been a rap freestyler.

I just think too much to freestyle.

But this is somehow accessing

a different part of the brain.

Yeah, I'm not thinking at all.

Listening more than anything, like listening and responding.

When I started playing, it was kind of a thing

like if you didn't know of my history,

if you didn't know of album sales,

if you didn't know of records, accolades or anything,

I was getting real responses from people.

Actually, people would come up and give me money.


Are you aware of the clips of you

playing your flute various places?

I became aware of it,

and it kind of made me more self-conscious,

because it became kind of like a game.

I remember I was in Philadelphia and someone came up

and they was like, You know, it's like a game now.

An actual person, they were like,

You know, we try to spot you.

He told me and I was like,

ah, it's kind of weird now, you know?

Because at first it was kind of like,

I would just walk for miles and miles and play

and just kind of duck off in places,

but now it's become a thing.

Being famous, it's just people don't want to say it.

It is a great blessing.

I'm actually blessed to be able to create in front of people

and get ideas off.

That's the biggest blessing out of being famous,

but being famous really sucks, man.

It's so unhuman.

I can't remember his name,

but there was this classical pianist

that said it's actually unnatural

and actually detrimental to a human

to have that much admiration,

because it actually changes the way you think.

It changes the way you move.

There's 100 people on the planet Earth

who were as famous as you at one point.

You know, the experience that you've had and to know,

very few people know.

You're like an astronaut in that sense, you know?

I'm coming to grips with it, I think,

because I'm older now.

I really see it as I'm just being used for something,

you know what I mean?

I'm happy that I'm being used in a greater scheme.

I kind of have looked at my whole career

and looked at where I am now,

and I kind of feel like I'm a catalyst kind of artist,

where I'll do a thing that I naturally do

and then people see it, and then the reaction of that

spawns other things to happen, you know what I mean?

So I'm always watching, well, how am I being used?

What's happening?

What's going on right now, you know?

And you can't be mad at that.

[dryer whirring]

[Zach] And then I wanted to ask about one more,

the last song.

Dreams Once Buried Beneath the Dungeon Floor

Slowly Sprout Into Undying Gardens.

Yeah, yeah, that song,

which is the last song on the album,

just for information, that is actually the first song

that we recorded as a group.

We're creeping along and filling it out, and it just felt

like this enchanted kind of garden at first,

and so the title is kind of referencing that

enchanted garden thing, but it's also like

I wanted to kind of go back to the very beginning.

I wanted to pinpoint the dungeon,

the dungeon where I'm from, with myself, OutKast,

Goodie Mob, Organized Noize,

and we started in Rico Wade's basement, and it was dirt.

It was actually, it wasn't a floor,

it was actually a crawl space

where the musical equipment was,

and I just felt like there was a continuation.

I always wanted to, it's not a separate thing,

it's a continuation from where we started, you know?

So everything kind of goes back to the dungeon.

When you look back at it, yeah, we were kids

and we were different in high school,

but even choosing the name OutKast, it was like,

okay, you just don't fit in really,

and I've really felt that way,

even outside of music, just kind of in my life.

I don't really feel like I belong to any sect.

I don't feel like I belong to the young rap crew.

I don't feel like I belong to the aged adults.

I've just never, yeah,

I just don't feel like you fit in anywhere,

so you just kind of gotta take that and just,

it is what it is, you know?

I watched the clip of you guys being booed

at the Source Awards this morning.

You looked so young.

Oh, yeah.

Yeah, we were youngins, man.

Are those fond memories when you look back on them

at that time? Oh yeah, man.

Those times were the best times ever, man,

and you wish you can get them back.

You wish you can all go back and sleep in the dungeon,

sleep on the floor in the dungeon.

You know, time moves on and things grow, things change.

Families come, new generations come,

generations after you come, even musically, you know?

Even looking at the landscape of music now,

I'm so happy and blessed that I'm still alive

to be able to see a lineage, you know, to see it.

[Zach] Do you see it? Yeah, I see it

and I hear it, because a lot of these guys

actually reach out and we talk,

and I think lineage is important in any art form,

in anything, because I think you do a disservice

if you don't tell people where things came from.

When I'm making music, I always feel like,

Oh, I wonder what George and them would think,

or I wonder if Jimmy was here, what would he think?

You know, or I wonder what would Prince think?

You're only as good as the people before you.

Yeah. It's just true,

because those are your building blocks,

and I don't care who you are, and it'll always be that way

and it'll just keep going.

It's gratifying to know that your life has had meaning

for someone or a group of people.

And for such a long time.

I mean, like I was saying,

I see how young you are in that clip.

It's like, God, these guys were so successful, so young.

You know, do you think about that?

What kind of effect did that have on you?

It was a blessing to be successful that young.

I think our career is kind of interesting,

because since our very first album, we've gone platinum

and just kept rising.

So next album was double, next three, next four,

so it just kept rising.

[Zach] I think you're 13x today, I heard.

[Andre] Yeah, I recently heard that,

[Zach] which is so crazy to me. On Speakerboxxx/

The Love Below.

[Andre] So, so, so crazy. Best-selling

rap album of all time.

It's something in it,

because I'm always kind of trying to figure out,

well, what's the bad in it?

I don't know, I'm just a negator.

We haven't taken a fall, you know what I mean?

I think sometimes you build character

or you build something by failure.

Idlewild may have been our slip.

You know, you never know.

The only thing you can do is be honest

about what you're doing at the time,

because what you don't want to happen,

you don't want fall or fail

when you were trying to mimic something

or trying to appease someone else.

[Zach] Is that what keeps you away from OutKast now?

I think there's a certain chemistry

that me and Big Boi have.

I think people don't understand that chemistry changes.

OutKast was a true chemistry.

The elements we had were not supposed to go together

a lot of times, you know?

But it's something that,

and I think they call it rocket fuel,

like when you have these kind of forces

that may be opposing,

but they're going for the same goal,

but they kind of get this kind of reaction to each other

and it makes magic.

But as people like me and Big Boi,

we're still tough, you know?

It hadn't changed, and it'll always be that way

because we were friends first.

We wasn't put into a group together or anything,

so we'll always have that.

But plenty of people would get,

especially since I think at least for years

the understanding was that he would've kept going

if you would've. Oh, no.

Man, Big Boi is on it.

He's back tomorrow? Hell yeah.

He is the biggest cheerleader for OutKast.

Big Boi's, Oh man, we the fucking greatest.

He's the Muhammad Ali.

The love between you guys is very real,

because I think that energy, those different goals,

would have split other people up,

not just as a group, but as two human beings.

I do know that I'm not the controller.

Big Boi is not the controller of any of this.

We couldn't have planned where we are,

so we can't plan an ending.

[Zach] You guys did reunite one time

to play shows in 2014.

Yes, I ain't been on stage in damned near 15, 20 years,

so it was odd for me.

And actually right before the show, you see Paul McCartney

walk and go to the left side of the stage,

and then Prince walks to the right side of the stage.

I'm like, Ah, what the fuck, man?

You know, there's new technologies like earbuds and shit.

I'd never used earbuds in my life.

We were always just in front of the monitors

or listening to the speakers.

So if you were watching the Coachella show,

I got people in my ear talking and shit,

and I'm just like, What the hell is going on?

So halfway through the show I was already checked out.

I was already in my bed at home,

so I was just trying to get through it.

The show happens, and it was a bomb night.

It was horrible.

In my eyes, it was horrible.

The very next morning I get a call from Prince,

which I don't know him like that.

I don't know how he got my number.

I do not know.

And first thing he says is, You know what your problem is?

You don't realize how big y'all are.

And then he was like, You gotta remind people who you are.

And from that point on, it's like, okay.

Is it weird to live knowing

that if you wanted to next week,

you could be on stage in front of 60,000 people?

It's only weird in the scale of thinking about that.

Even when we did the OutKast 20,

we opened up for Rolling Stones on one of the dates,

and I'd never seen that many people in my life.

Was there a mental adjustment to be like,

Oh, I'm by myself again?

There's been so many times in my mind

where I thought I was done,

so it wasn't even like a struggle.

It wasn't like, Ah, what am I gonna do now?

Even still now, doing all of this.

I remember a couple weeks ago

talking to my manager and publicist, I was like,

I really had to ask myself,

do I want to be just out there again to do the run,

to do the PR, and I really had to ask myself,

and I honestly don't.

I don't want to, like I really enjoy my life.

I like being able to do what I want as a civilian,

just walking in the world.

But at the same time, I want to promote the music,

so I'm only doing it to promote the music.

This ain't no flex.

Forgive me if this is not something that's fun

or comfortable to talk about, because we don't have to,

but you've talked in the past about actually having

some amount of real social anxiety.

Yeah, it's true, and it never goes away.

It's not like a cure-all kind of thing.

It just becomes a part of life,

and you just have to kind of take a deep breath,

smile a little bit, and just get through it for tomorrow.

That's the best I can say, you know?

Do you think that's something that developed

in reaction of fame, or something you always had?

For sure, for sure.

I think that may have been a trigger,

like a traumatic kind of thing,

because it's really unnatural to have

that much attention as a human, you know?

Or to have that much expectation as a human.

I had to adjust people filming you all the time

or just like coming up to you,

and that was so weird to me, like very, very weird to me,

and I didn't like it.

It made me not want to play at all.

It made me not want to come out at all.

One thing a therapist told me, he was like,

Well son, the thing that makes your art what it is,

is the thing that you don't like, either.

So it's like, Fuck, what am I gonna do?

What are you gonna do?

It's not like I can change it.

Yeah, yeah. Just kind of rock with it.

Do you feel like something like the new record

is an attempt to just change the terms

of the conversation in a way?

I will say it's the most honest thing

that I could do at the moment,

and I feel really good about it.

One thing that I noticed listening back at the album

is it's kind of a reset or a reintroduction of a new volume.

I'm not trying to compete with people on the radio.

Like most records that come out, when you master them,

you master them to the loudest that they can go, you know?

I was having a conversation with the engineer,

and a lot of his engineer buddies, they were saying,

We've realized as engineers that as humans,

we've gotten as loud as we can get in human history.

When you think about that, we can't get any louder.

As an engineer, people send you files.

A lot of times they look like these thick bars,

solid bars, when music used to look like that.

[Zach] Sure, dynamics. Dynamic,

and so on the record, there's certain kind of

suggested listening tactics, like we would say

listen at a low to mid volume,

because these are not bangers.

[Zach] When you listen to music now,

do you hear your influence?


[Zach] Where do you hear it most?

Certain artists.

I see it visually.

I see it more in spirit and people pushing things

and trying things, and I love the spirit.

I think I'm happy that people caught on on the spirit part.

Like you see Tyler and them, you see Teezo Touchdown

and those guys, and you're like, ah.

The coolest thing is it's not like a signing,

it's not like a copy.

It's the next, it's a lineage.

It's a lineage.

These people got their own thing.

Do you allow yourself to picture how people might react

to this record when it's out in the world?

Yeah, I do.

What do you picture?

I have a lot of different outcomes,

and it depends on different people.

You may get someone that cries,

you may get someone that immediately starts to do yoga.

Then you got the homie that'll be like,

Y'all gonna put some beats on that shit?

My friends don't always like my music,

which is hilarious to me.

One of my homies told me, like after I finished Hey Ya!

and I played it for him, he said,

Man, if you put that out, man, your career is over.

[both laughing]

And in my mind I'm like, Damn, but I like this shit.

Do you have any other plans around it

in terms of will you tour? Oh, yeah.

Oh man, I'm glad you asked that.

The cool thing about how we recorded it,

making up the sound, like everything that y'all are hearing,

we made it up at that point,

and so the live performances will be that again,

so we get to actually go out and do it live.

I actually had to go back and listen

and relearn some of the melodies that I played,

but it'll always be a completely new performance every time.

[Zach] Have you thought much

about just being on stage again?

Yes, I have, and it's terrifying.

[Zach laughing]

It is terrifying.

It's a very new experience for me,

which is totally different from getting on stage

and rapping some songs.

There's more involved in what I have to do now

than rapping songs that I've written.

That's kind of like muscle memory and just energy,

and you're able to hide some of the nervousness

through your energy.

Here, it's all in your face.

You're on a tight rope the whole time.

I can't hide behind a beat that you already know

or hide behind lyrics that you already are into.

It is what it is.

It's fun to do it.

When I'm actually playing, it's fun.

It's fun.

[flute playing]

[machines whirring]

Starring: André 3000