Pictured is the album cover to “New Blue Sun” by André 3000.
Bryce Russell | Contributing Writer
André 3000, one member of one of the most influential and highly regarded rap duos of all time OutKast, released his debut solo studio album on Nov. 17.. The album marks his first solo studio work in 17 years, since OutKast’s final 2006 album “Idlewild, New Blue Sun” is a departure from the expert lyricist’s signature flow and sound, fully embracing his experimental nature that made OutKast such a special group. The album is an experimental, improvisational jazz album with wind instruments being the primary instrumentation. As the packaging for the album states, “No Bars.”
André 3000 is best known for his songs made with fellow OutKast member Big Boi, popular hits of theirs being “Mrs. Jackson,” “Hey Ya!,” “Roses,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” and “Rosa Parks,” along with releasing albums considered to be some of the greatest hip hop records of all time, 1998’s “Aquemini” and 2000’s “Stankonia”. Having featured occasionally on other rappers songs over the past decade and a half, notably in the past few years with his excellent verse on Kanye West’s “Life of the Party” in 2021 as well as on Killer Mike’s “SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS” from this past June, New Blue Sun may seem like a complete departure from André 3000’s previous work. However, OutKast fans know that André 3000 has always been known to push the boundaries of whatever music genre he finds himself in, in the past incorporating jazz, blues, swing, and soul music into his hip-hop endeavors.
With concerns about the album not containing any rapping, 3 Stacks mentioned in a recent interview with GQ that
“Even now, people think ‘he’s just sitting on raps’ or ‘he’s holding these raps hostage’ like, 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, like what do you talk, like I gotta go get a colonoscopy? [laughs] What do you rap about? My eyesight is going bad?”
In the lead-up to this album’s release, André 3000 has been seen and recorded around the world playing flute in public places, so this release being entirely experimental flute music doesn’t come completely out of nowhere. Never wanting to be put in a box, André 3000’s track titles for this release play into the confusion of this seemingly bizarre release, with the first song being titled “I swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time.”
On the album, inspired by minimalist musical composers and experimental jazz artists, André 3000 creates a sonic soundscape that truly transports the listener into another place, with droning synths, whimsical flutes, glistening chimes, and dripping rain sticks. He utilizes both native flute as well as electronic windwood instruments. The album contains eight songs and clocks in at 87 minutes and 41 seconds. The album can be listened to intently, as well as in the background, perfect for long study sessions or reading. The album perfectly reflects André 3000’s sympathies with his current “chill” life. The album still contains 3 Stacks’s signature humor, seen in the titles, as with the previously mentioned “I swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time,” and “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.” I highly recommend the album for fans of jazz as well as hip-hop fans who appreciate André 3000’s influence on the genre and want to see where his artistic vision has taken him in the last 17 years. It’s a beautiful album that could only be made by an artist like André 3000.
Final Rating: 5/5
- “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”
- “I swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time”
- “Ants to You, Gods to Who?”