Words by Nirav Doshi
One of the most perpetually anticipated and elusive artists of the last 25 years, André 3000 has managed to build a legacy in hip-hop that not many of his peers have been able to attain. Through his remarkable chemistry with Big Boi in Outkast, the pair defied expectations and boundaries to make the music that was most interesting to them. Outside of Outkast though, André was able to attract his own mass following; more and more people were clocking on to how monumental of a wordsmith he was. This meant more features, and it was some of these features that reinforced his reputation today as one of raps most gifted geniuses. Of these features was Sixteen; a Rick Ross track (2012), widely regarded as one of 3000s best feature of all time, where André just venomously delivered rhyme after rhyme, thought after thought for 2 minutes, in addition to singing the hook. However, it is his features that have been delivered in the last five years that have elevated Andre’s reputation to another level, and have cemented his significant relevance within Hip-Hop permanently.
An artist who is able to move in and out of the public eye, but still has the capability to receive the utmost unwavering love and attention from their core fans, is an artist whose legacy is securely intact. This is André 3000, and as a fan, to have the same feeling about an artist from the very first time hearing them to now, is something very unique. The same can be said about Frank Ocean, and it was on Ocean’s critically acclaimed Blonde that 3000 delivered a riveting solo minute fifteen feature. With an infectious flow, and delivering multiple double entendres, André Benjamin discusses the breakdown of the industry through Frank’s eyes on Solo (Reprise), and this track remains one of the standouts from Blonde. As expected, hearing 3000s voice caused mass pandemonium amongst fans, with many left wanting more. In typical André 3000 fashion, nothing was said from him about this feature, and he returned to the elusive cave he had been residing in. He would make his return to the Hip-Hop fold a few months later in 2016, delivering two phenomenal features on Kid Cudi’s Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin; but it wasn’t until September 2017, when Travis Scott released Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight that the world would once again be in awe at an André 3000 guest verse, just as it was a year prior. After the ends with Travis, it became very clear that André 3000 was now just simply rapping for fun. He is in no competitive state of mind when it comes to rapping anymore, yet he is still able to out-rap most of the competition in the rap game right now.
But it is this very thing that has seen the light never flicker on André 3000 – the fact that he has been inactive in the scene for so long, but yet, every now and then, can deliver a verse that your favourite rapper never could. Even this year, in 2019, appearing on Ventura by Anderson .Paak and Assume Form by James Blake, he is still able to cast his accomplished skills as a lyricist. He’s taken such a unique approach in increasing his unquestionable legacy within the realm of hip-hop, whether that be intentionally or not. There are many OG rappers in the game that are attempting to cement their legacy by continuing to release projects and doing a load of features etc, and whilst no disrespect to those artists, the way André 3000 has been moving over recent years (rarely delivering any music) and the fact that there is still so much attention placed on him whenever he appears on someone’s album, goes to show just how well-regarded he is within the culture of hip-hop, and how the Hip-Hop audience has really gravitated to this mysterious, enigmatic character that André 3000 has inadvertently created for himself.