Hey Ya! After nearly two decades without dropping any new music, André 3000 is back and this time, he’s brought his flute.
André 3000 — one half of the legendary Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast with Big Boi — will release New Blue Sun on Friday, November 17. The album will be the first collection of new music from the 48-year-old musician since 2006’s Idlewild soundtrack. However, fans holding out for André’s return to rap must wait a little longer. According to NPR, New Blue Sun is not a rap album but an improvisational jazz experiment featuring André and his woodwinds.
New Blue Sun contains “no bars, no beats, [and] no sub-bass,” per NPR. André doesn’t rap or sing on the album, but he does “play flute, and plenty of it — contrabass flute, Mayan flutes, bamboo flutes — along with other digital wind instruments.”
While speaking with NPR, André addressed feeling pressure to return to rap after a long hiatus. “Even in our height of what people know of what I’ve done before, I was always like a slow writer. I’m not a freestyler. I don’t be freestyling. I just wasn’t blessed with that,” he said. “Even during the earlier times, Big Boi, he just kind of got down, like, he’s so fast and efficient with what he does.”
He continued, “So, in these times, it just comes harder for me to do it and I don’t know why. I mean, I try it all the time. It’s not like I don’t try, or it’s not like I have a lot of these songs just sitting — I have songs, but it’s not like rap things that I really feel happy about sharing. And really, that’s the most important part. I have to feel happy about sharing it.”
The “Ms. Jackson” rapper said he had already shared the album with Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean, two artists whose opinions André “respects.” He also said that Tyler, 32, was looking at his collection of travel suitcases, pondering how to arrange them, while listening to the album. “And he was listening to one of the songs and he was like, ‘It sounds like you’re chasing a butterfly through a garden, and I figured it out. It helped me to figure out how to do this,’” said André.
New Blue Sun emerged after André bumped into experimental jazz percussionist Carlos Niño at Erewhon, an L.A. health food chain. “He was like, ‘Everybody has been telling me that you were in town playing flute and they were telling me that we should meet,’” he told NPR. The two started to jam together, which led to the new album. It features Niño on percussion, Nate Mercereau on guitar and Surya Botofasina on keyboards.
The album contains songs with titles like “I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time,” “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,” “Ninety Three ‘Til Infinity And Beyoncé,” and “Dreams Once Buried Beneath The Dungeon Floor Slowly Sprout Into Undying Gardens.”
André told NPR that the first track title — “I swear, I Really Wanted to Make A ‘Rap’ Album…” — was his way of making sure he didn’t troll his fans. “I love rap music because it was a part of my youth,” he told NPR. “I would love to be out here [rapping] with everybody, but it’s just not happening for me. This is the realest thing that’s coming right now. Not to say that I would never do it again, but those are not the things that are coming right now. And I have to present what’s given to me at the time.”