André 3000 is the subject of a new Complex profile centered on his new gig as Creative Director for the Swedish shoe company Tretorn. The feature mostly focuses on fashion, acting, and his move to New York (he takes outfit inspiration from comfortable old men in Chinatown), but he does address his sporadic forays into rapping.
Three Stacks explains that he hasn’t ever gotten around to finishing a solo album because he needs a collaborator urging him on in order to move forward creatively — hence his occasional guest verses on other people’s projects. And when asked why he doesn’t just work with Big Boi on another Outkast album, 42-year-old André says he enjoys life away from the pressure of the album cycle and “hope[s] to God” he won’t still be rapping at age 50. Thus rap is “more like a hobby” at this point; “I still love music, but I’m trying to find that deeper thing,” he says, though he doesn’t necessarily close the door on another Outkast LP. Here’s a relevant excerpt:
“With acting and fashion design you’re dealing with so many other people,” André says. “In acting, you’re with maybe 100 other people — your director, casting director, makeup. You have to sit back and have more of a conversation with people. And I work better with other people. I clearly see that now. Like, I haven’t put out an album in years, but if Frank Ocean or Travis Scott calls and says, ‘Hey, man, I want you to be a part of this,’ it’s like I have a goal, a target. When I’m on my own, I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs, like, ‘Ah, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ It’s different. There’s a kind of certain magic when you work with other people.”
This begs an obvious question: Why not make more music with Big Boi, the collaborator with whom André made his best, most consistent and most influential work so far? (At the very least, it would finally make fans and journalists stop asking him about it.) The answer: At the age of 42, André says rapping only inspires him in fleeting moments now. “It’s really just an excitement thing, and where I am in life. I kind of like not being a part of [rap], now that I’ve done it. As I get older, I start to see myself move more back from it — the hustle and bustle of putting out an album, the pressure of being in the studio trying to come up with something. Now it’s more like a hobby for me, so I don’t think about it in that way. Even with Outkast — if we never do another album, I’m totally fine with that. When I was 25, I said I don’t want to be a 30-year-old rapper. I’m 42 now, and I feel more and more that way. Do I really want to be 50 years old up there doing that? When I watch other rappers that are my age I commend them, but I just wonder where the inspiration is coming from. At this stage I’m really more focused on what I am going to be doing 10 years from now. And I hope to God it won’t be rapping.”
Honestly, if André’s musical output from here on out is confined to one or two revelatory verses per year, that’s more than we can look forward to from most active artists.