Whatever Happened To Andre 3000?

There are few musicians with the star power of André 3000, born André Benjamin — and he is for real. With OutKast, the rapper gave us a perspective we've never seen before: the brightly colored-outfits, the bombast, the fearlessness to try something goofy or out-there. It was everything that made early aughts hip hop great. Few — if any — artists before him have managed to achieve the masterful feat of using the words "poo-poo-oo" in a mainstream radio hit, and that's not even touching upon the three Grammy Awards 3 Stacks netted with the duo's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Then there's his animated series, a legit OutKast musical called Idlewild. Even in 2019, over a decade after OutKast went on hiatus, the group topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "The Way You Move."  

André 3000 has the kind of cultural sway that caused Polaroid to issue a public statement urging buyers not to "shake it like a Polaroid picture" (it apparently damages the film) — but since the height of his fame, the music star has almost completely retreated from the public eye. While his OutKast partner Big Boi's solo career soared, André more or less retired from music, save a brief OutKast reunion at 2014 Coachella, some random singles, and a couple of guest verses. As it turns out, he doesn't really like fame all that much.

Let's find out whatever happened to André 3000.

Andre 3000 is back on the small screen

André 3000 has scaled back his music career to a series of small wins — think: one-off singles and guest verses — but that doesn't mean he's completely put his life as an entertainer behind him. Let's not forget that the rapper managed to parlay OutKast's fame into the highly underrated Cartoon Network series, Class of 3000, which The Undefeated described as "like if you put The Magic School Bus in a deep fryer and put a side of yams to it." Or a side of cannabis — whichever. In his heyday, André also had a glorious comedic performance in Semi-Pro alongside Will Ferrell in the arguable prime era of Will Ferrell, and he's the first to admit that he's the "worst [basketball] player out [there]" (or so he told MTV News).

3 Stack's acting career has since reached new heights. After a busy 2008, he took a five-year hiatus and came back to embody Jimi Hendrix in the biopic, Jimi: All is by My Side. Years later, he nabbed a role alongside Robert Pattinson in the thriller, High Life, and at the time this writing, he's transitioned back to the small screen with the Jason Segel-led series, Dispatches from Elsewhere

In an interview with AMC, André 3000 admitted he didn't relate much to his character, Fredwynn, who's a calculating conspiracy theorist. The rapper's a "naturally smiley person," but Segel gave him strict orders not to smile. "I actually smiled when I heard it," he said.

Andre 3000's too anxious to git up, and git out there

Fans have been asking André 3000 for a solo record since OutKasts 2007 hiatus, but that's something that may never happen. André seems to have developed an intense anxiety around releasing new music ... but can you blame him? Yes, the star won some Grammys — Speakerboxxx/The Love Below even won album of year, a feat no other rap group has been able to accomplish since — but his art is regularly ripped to shreds. In 2016, a writer for Pitchfork had a caustic enough hatred toward OutKast's Idlewild, the group's widely-panned swan song, that he actually lost his words. " ... What do you say when heroes eventually die?" he asked.

3 Stacks did release two solo songs in 2018 — "Me & My (To Bury Your Parents)" and "Look Ma No Hands" — the latter of which sees the rapper show off his bass clarinet skills, according to The Fader. Though these tracks were dedicated to André's mother, who passed away in 2013, they only seemed to exacerbate his existing anxieties. In an 2019 interview with the Broken Record podcast (via Rolling Stone), André 3000 admitted, "Any little thing I put out, it's instantly attacked ... People nitpick it with a fine-tooth comb ... That's not a great place to create from and it makes you draw back. Maybe I don't have the confidence that I want, or the space to experiment like I used to."

Sorry Ms. Jackson, but he's got some serious writer's block

Though André 3000 is anxious to release new music, that doesn't mean he hasn't been trying to make new music. It's just unlikely that we're going to hear it. The star has spent his time behind the scenes tinkering, trying to find his sound ... and hitting a wall. His writer's block apparently got severe enough that the Grammy-winning artist thought about throwing in the towel all together. During an interview with the Broken Record Podcast (via Rolling Stone), André told Rick Rubin that he's questioning whether he's even supposed to make music at all.

"I haven't been making much music, man. My focus is not there. My confidence is not there," he revealed. "I tinker a lot. I'll just go to a piano and sit my iPhone down and just record what I'm doing ... but I haven't been motivated to do a serious project. I'd like to, but it's just not coming. In my own self I'm trying to figure out where do I sit? I don't even know what I am and maybe I'm nothing. Maybe I'm not supposed to be anything. Maybe my history is kind of handicapping in a way."

André 3000 hasn't totally disappeared from the music industry, though. In 2019, he threw down a verse on Anderson .Paak's "Come Home" and appeared on James Blake's "Where's the Catch." DJ Khaled and SZA even sampled one of the singer's tracks on "Just Us."

Andre 3000 is still trying to find his true talent

André 3000's biggest hurdle as of late seems to be his confidence. The star is widely regarded as one of the greatest, most innovative rappers of all time, but he doesn't actually think he's all that talented. Instead, he's been spending his time on a futile search to discover his talents (and we say futile because his astounding musicianship is already so obvious to the rest of us). If anything, André is proof that you can win a Grammy and still suffer from impostor syndrome.

In an interview with GQ, André claimed he was a "jack-of-no-trades" who never "totally dedicated" himself to a single craft. He learned piano just enough to make "Ms. Jackson." The first chords he learned on guitar were turned into "Hey Ya!" Here, we'd argue André's talents adequately serve their purpose, so what does technical skill really matter? He doesn't seem to share the same sentiment. Following The Love Below, the rapper created hard drive after hard drive of music just trying to find something he's good at. "I was trying to find out: What can I be excited about? Because I never was, to me, a great producer or a great writer or a great rapper," he explained. "I always felt that I was less than everybody else, so I fought harder."

Can we just remind André 3000 that he played, rapped, wrote, and produced the literal album of the year in 2003? He beat Justin Timberlake.

Andre 3000 is still doing fashion

André 3000 wasn't just an innovator when it came to OutKast's larger-than-life sound. The rapper had a sense of style to match, and jumped into the world of fashion in 2008 with the launch of his menswear line, Benjamin Bixby. The line — which was carried at UK department store Harrods — actually owed Ashton Kutcher a shout-out. In an interview with Numéro, 3 Stacks revealed he named the line after a fake name he used to get out of paying for a wrecked Maybach during one of Kutcher's Punk'd pranks.

Today, André's style is much more toned-down than it was in the early aughts. Honestly, if we're looking at any VMAs red carpets from the era, it's hard not to think Hollywood came to that conclusion unanimously, but GQ reports he's ditched his chaps and football shoulder pads for basics like long sleeve tees, jeans, and Adidas Sambas. He's also still doing fashion. André 3000's got a line of his own Tretorns and planned to design t-shirts for Anita Baker. In his 2017 GQ interview, André revealed he was inspired to make merchandise for the legendary R&B singer after accidentally buying some really awful-looking bootlegs. Following the interview, Baker seemed into the idea. She tweeted, "We'll talk."

Andre 3000 ditched Atlanta for New York City

Along with peaches and the Braves' 1995 World Series-winning roster, OutKast is one of Georgia's most beloved exports. The group is so widely adored that a whopping 13 years after it released its last album, André 3000 and Big Boi were commemorated with a gigantic mural in the heart of Atlanta's Little Five Points neighborhood. André doesn't even live there anymore, but that's not to say he doesn't have pride for the city where he built his career. In an interview with NPR, the rapper revealed OutKast named its debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, as a tribute to the city and the Southern lifestyle — but he's since had to move on.

In his 2017 GQ profile, André revealed that he needed a new start when his parents died and his son, who he shares with ex Erykah Badu, went off to college: "I was like, I've kinda outlived Atlanta. It's not like I go to the studio — I'm just sitting around wasting time and doing stuff I'm not supposed to be doing." The rapper hoped moving to New York City would help him with his career — whether that meant cultivating a new skill or renewing his deflating passion — and he's been slowly checking off the boxes since. "I saw myself coming to study an instrument, coming to learn Spanish and probably try stage," André 3000 said. "I've only done one."

Andre 3000 is struggling with his parents' deaths

In the time between OutKast's last album, Idlewild, and his string of singles in 2018, André 3000 lost both of his parents — and he's understandably still struggling to deal with his grief. In his 2017 interview with GQ, the rapper revealed that he was "in a hole" when he signed on to star in 2013's Jimi: All is by My Side, and a huge part had to do with his parents' passing. As he put it, his "mom was everything."

"I was in a creative hole, a personal hole, and I was still not dealing with my mom's and my father's deaths. And really, I don't know if I have still. You know: Just push that away," André said. "The problem with being successful is you can do whatever you do times ten. And no one to stop you. You can easily go down the wrong path and you get into that place. And the thing that brings you out is other people."

André 3000 ended up experiencing two waves of grief for his dad. First, it was the loss, and second, it was realizing his father died alone in his home. "I do miss not being able to talk to him about him living alone and not ever being married," André told GQ. "I think I would have gotten a lot of great insight. I think he would have told me something."

Andre 3000 spent his time away from fame re-learning how to live a normal life

André 3000 has been in the game a lot longer than most of us realize. In an interview with GQ, the artist revealed he met Big Boi in high school. The pair first wanted to sign their record deal at age 17, but it was a no-go for André's parents, so they had to wait until they were legal adults. Big Boi ended up graduating with honors, while André dropped out in 11th grade.

The rap group was a quick success, so André missed out on certain milestones. The most astounding have to do with his finances. The star claimed he wrote a single check when he was 17 because his mom was teaching him how to use a checkbook, but he never had to write one ever again because OutKast exploded. His massive success meant that, when he retreated from the spotlight, he had a lot of catching up to do. As André put it, there were a lot of social norms he "just [didn't] know."

"I mean, since age 17 people have catered to me and Big Boi," André 3000 told GQ. "It's strange when, your whole life, everyone has treated you different from everybody else. They say that if you're an entertainer, whatever time you took off, you stay that age. I was 17."

Andre 3000 is working as a producer

André 3000 is most widely known for fronting OutKast, but the performer is also a Grammy-winning producer. Back at the height of his fame, he actually produced a number of his rap group's records — including The Love Below — and Kelis' 2003 album, Tasty. Though he seems a bit disillusioned with writing and performing, the rapper told GQ that he has been focusing his efforts on producing in recent years, but he's struggled a bit because of his age.

"I hate going to the studio," André said. "So what's got me going once again is me being excited about other artists. I've been working on producing a few artists. A couple projects. But here's the crazy thing: I don't have the pulse anymore. Rhythms change every generation ... I can't pretend. It's kinda like watching your uncle dance. So the only thing I can do is this kind of novelty, off thing for them."

In 2014, André 3000 was tapped to produce a song for Aretha Franklin. According to NPR, the pair recorded a rendition of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" for her cover album. This was 3 Stack's first production project since OutKast. "It's not like I'm a hot producer or anything right now, I have all hits on the radio, so when I got the call I was honestly surprised," André admitted.

Andre 3000 gave up his hardcore vegan lifestyle

At one point, André 3000 was voted PETA's "World's Sexiest Vegetarian" alongside Alicia Silverstone, but those days are long behind him. It's not that the star's attractiveness has faded. If we're giving credence to Hollywood's impossible beauty standards, the rapper has barely aged since his Grammy wins. It's just that the former devout vegetarian gave up his plant-based diet.

According to an Esquire interview, André actually spent 15 years as a "hardcore vegan." He told GQ that he originally adopted the diet after a stretch of hard-party on the road. The star was "doing drugs, partaking in every woman" and started to notice it was taking a toll on his health. "I would look in the mirror and be like, 'You look like s**t.' So I got to a point where I said, I gotta stop. So I went that way and tried it." So, why'd he give up such a long-standing, healthy habit? He grew a little resentful — and possibly a little hangry.

"I've even done raw," André 3000 told Esquire. "But socially it became horrible. I was kind of just sitting at home eating a salad. You become mean. That's not good for you."

Andre 3000's been struggling with social anxiety

Part of André 3000's retreat from the spotlight could be because of social anxiety. In an interview with GQ, the star opened up about his mental health, revealing that he was "diagnosed with this social thing" that started right before Speakerboxxx/The Love Below took off. André had moved to California and thought he was maybe just in need of a break, but the problem got worse and worse until it started to bleed into his personal life. At the height, 3 Stacks claimed it was "hard for [him] to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous," and he would "meet new people" and "freak out or have to leave."

"The more you run from it, the worse it gets," André told GQ. "You don't want to explain it, because you don't want to be a weak link around your friends. I never told my crew for a long time, so I just started getting to myself. Spending more time with myself and stopped touring. And it felt great for me to do that, because it's like, Phew, I don't like that life, I don't like that confrontation."

Ultimately, André 3000 hoped moving to NYC would help him confront his anxiety. A city that's so densely populated and relies so heavily on public transportation gives little space to hide.