Andre 3000 has meant a lot to me throughout my years. When I was just becoming a teenager, my older brother was digging Outkast’s Stankonia, so, naturally, they were my favorite band and I strove to like them in bigger and better ways than my brother, who had already inundated my musical taste already. Outkast, no, these guys were gonna be my band. Mark could keep Boogie Down Productions and that Screwston shitttt [both oversights future peter would happily correct with plenty of hours bobbin his head on a couch].

I started just memorizing the rhymes from the albums and trying to spit them back with some cats in football locker rooms. Nothing much came of it, but one thing that happened was I memorized the 3stack verse on Bombs Over Baghdad.

I haven’t forgotten it since. It’s a whirl of stream of conscious imagery of returning home after gaining personal success and finding out that nothing has changed from home. It’s only gotten worse. So he stays home, and the entire band parties on the beat for a couple minutes doing the most straight up hip hop lines, “1-2-3, B-I-G”, etc., but with the frantic drum reworking, electrifying guitar solo, and the reveal of a gospel choir, it’s clear that these men believe in the beat and being an MC, a master of ceremonies, as much as they do being rappers and poets.

I listened to that album frontwards and backwards, but couldn’t really memorize a lot of other verses. Sure, Big Boi’s were memorably and charismatically delivered, but I didn’t really care to repeat them. And Andre 3000’s, well, I had to sit down and painstakingly catch each syllable onto a piece of paper, frantically scrolling back and forth, if I was going to catch the collateral from his poetry. I definitely got “Gasoline Dreams”, “So Fresh, So Clean”, and “Humble Mumble” down, but the rest were just too hard, and the others just not things I was comfortable rapping out loud in front of other people. I can’t talk about how her clothes were tight, like my block before my niggas left. I could rap about how I love who some is, and especially who that person isn’t, though.

Before I got too far into the back catalogue [ATLiens was forbiddingly back-ordered and demanding of mature identification, so there was no way a prepubescent Peter could pick up that], Speakerboxxx/The Love Below came out [which Grant Morrison would even reference by having Jack Kirby’s Motherbox get a new model called the Motherboxxx that played healing grooves to whoever wore the magnificent piece of technology in Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle]. And, suddenly, it wasn’t about having these two personalities collaborating in a song. It was about honoring each one separately. Like, saying they’d rather exist without each other.

I mean, Andre could still pull off a love gangster.

And, more importantly, Big Boi could find some really rich ground in his seedy subject material to deeply probe situations for some classic cadillac Atlanta funk and hip hop on Speakerboxxx. Heck, Andre still plumbed from the same seeds, he just tells other people how to grow instead of looking at what dangles so spectacularly.

But, overall, it gave the impression that they were competing, trying to say they were better than each other. And Andre’s album had a lot of annoying tracks I would always skip through.

I still memorized each rap verse on his album, slim as they were. And it still gave us GhettoMusick, with some added vocal overdubs that thankfully made their way onto the video edition:

In fact, almost every video from that era was spectacular. Remember the high school dance scene of “Roses”?

Of course, they couldn’t keep such ambition limited to music videos. They went on to lay down a soundtrack for a movie as their next album, and, oh yeah, they cared much more about their movie than their album. For artists who had an incredibly dynamic and concise sense of storytelling between songs with interludes, it was a bold move. For artists who had only raised the ire of reviewers with pointless interludes, it has essentially stopped any collaborative music they have made together, although other factors could have certainly contributed.

Fortunately, as much as the death of Outkast has not meant the death of Big Boi, we are starting to see more closely the life of Andre 3000.

Andre 3000’s been on a righteous solo kick, demonstrating that just from a guest verse he can command a song as his own. Check out his verse on a remix of Ke$ha’s “Sleazy” done immediately after Idlewild.

about his raps that have yet to really travel past the Atlanta funk scene:

“I was gon’ save it for later but later look like maybe”

and it’s on a verse that intersperses his divorced parents’ new relationships and his own sex life, all electrified by “cadence so it don’t get negated”. peep full lyrics here.

The guest verses pretty much haven’t stopped. They kind of climax in him taking up much more time in Rick Ross’ “Sixteen” than the title artist.

He even makes the song about the convention of giving guest artists sixteen bars. So he just talks about how he wants more than sixteen bars for sixteen bars, and then rocks an unbeatable 48 bars that end making fun of the fabricating and fiction-based Rick Ross with his final line: “Don’t Settle For What Isn’t Yours”, delivered after a verse full of boasts that don’t have to act like they come from a drug dealing mouth.

Andre 3000 is keeping it dramatic, but he’s also using the drama of a situation instead of fabricating and exaggerating what doesn’t have to be there.

I know that an Outkast album is too far in the works to really consider. We’ve heard maybes since 2010, and we’ll keep hearing ’em. Andre kept Big Boi from Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter”.

Which, I mean, is really perfect enough on it’s own. I could see both sides of the argument.

Let’s hope we aren’t gonna let greed determine which music we get to hear y’all.

Thankfully, he’s already gone through his “I’m a Pharoah” phase that Sun Ra never grew out of. The steps to godhood are hard!