André Benjamin – known best as André 3000, one half of Outkast – is one of the most respected men in hip-hop for good reason: consistency is no mean feat in the rap world, and when you have a catalogue as strong as Outkast's behind you, it'd be hard not to get complacent, and there would be the temptation to keep churning records out.
In a new interview Complex to celebrate his collaboration with the shoe brand Tretorn, however, André has said that he'd be "totally fine" if Outkast never recorded or put out new music again, adding that music is now "more like a hobby" to him, and in the process crushing the hearts of music fans in their mid-to-late twenties everywhere:
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.
As much as this revelation is a sad one for Outkast fans, it is also a fair point. While it's true that age is just a number, baby, it's also the case that there's a lot of bravado involved in US rap especially that just feels immature when worn by an older person. And though it can be negotiated via innovation (see: Kanye), or simply acknowledging that you are just different to how you were in your twenties (see: JAY-Z, admitting his dad-dom by putting his daughter Blue Ivy on his most recently album), André's choice to simply bow out unless something interesting comes along – he notes, for example, that though he hasn't "put out an album in years [...] 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" – is also one way to go about things.
This isn't to say, however, that he's out of touch with what's happening – he has a particular soft spot for people like Young Thug who shift generically and stylistically, in a similar way to Outkast:
He's exciting [...] There's no box. He's all over the place. To do those things he does, you have to have big fuckin' balls. It's almost harder than the guy who's portraying hard, you know? It's kind of mind-fucking people. It's saying, don't get too comfortable with me. That's one of my mottos: "Don't let people get too comfortable with what you're doing."
This desire to not allow people to get used to what you're doing is potentially what has lead André to decide that it wouldn't be a bad thing if Outkast were to shut up shop, as he moves on to new projects. And yeah, though no new Outkast ever again feels difficult to contend with, it's definitely a decision that's easy to respect.
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