Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Andre 3000 Death-Growls, Pretends Things Are His Penis: An Outkast Review

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Andre 3000, one half of Outkast. - BRYAN SUTTER. MORE OUKAST PHOTOS IN OUR COMPLETE SLIDESHOW.

"Honestly, I never planned to go onstage again in that way. If I feel like I'm getting to a place where it's mimicking or a caricature, I just want to move on. But I felt like: Let me do it now 'cause these kids [in the audience], it feels good to know that they're happy. I really don't actually get anything from performing."

That was Andre 3000's response when asked why he is touring now, in a (stellar) New York Times interview published on August 31 of this year. As one of rap's most enigmatic -- and undeniably talented -- figures, the man born Andre Benjamin, one half of the legendary southern rap group Outkast, no longer feels he has anything to prove in the world of hip-hop. "Part of art is knowing when not to put paint on," he also told the Times. "And when to change your medium."

See also: Our complete LouFest coverage

Benjamin famously walked away from stardom at the height of his group's popularity. Outkast did not even tour to support its highest-selling album, 2002's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which has been certified diamond with over 11 million records sold. Tour cancellations followed, the duo's professional relationship became strained, Benjamin fumbled through apologies to his partner, Big Boi.

Big Boi performing at LouFest. - BRYAN SUTTER. MORE OUKAST PHOTOS IN OUR COMPLETE SLIDESHOW.

For fans of a man considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers alive, his absence from the spotlight was disheartening, to say the least. Big Boi pressed on with a solo career, releasing two critically acclaimed albums, but Andre all but dropped out of the scene altogether, only reemerging on occasion to lend a guest verse to a friend's record.

"Now the only time I'm really inspired to write raps is if an artist that I enjoy invites me to their party," he told the Times. "So if Future calls and says, 'Hey man, I want you to do this,' I don't want to let Future down. I don't want to let Lil Wayne or Drake down, because I love them."

So when it was announced at the beginning of this year that the 'Kast would be reuniting for a full reunion tour to celebrate its twenty-year anniversary, critics and fans alike responded with unbridled joy.

The first show of the tour, Outkast's first live performance in a decade, took place at Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California, on April 13. Reviews were mixed, with many noting that something was off. The blame was laid on Benjamin, who had come dressed in overalls as opposed to the eclectic style for which he is known, and appeared disenchanted throughout the night's proceedings. When it came time to perform the once-ubiquitous "Hey Ya!", Benjamin stood still as a stone and faced away from the crowd for his entire first verse.

LouFest's crowd patiently await the start of Outkast's performance. - BRYAN SUTTER. MORE OUKAST PHOTOS IN OUR COMPLETE SLIDESHOW.
  • Bryan Sutter. More Oukast photos in our complete slideshow.
  • LouFest's crowd patiently await the start of Outkast's performance.

"It was foreign," he told the Times of his performance. "My head wasn't there. I kind of fluffed through rehearsals. A few hours before the Coachella show, I get a message that Prince and Paul McCartney are going to be there. My spirit is not right, and idols are standing side-stage, so as the show started, I'm bummed. This is horrible. In my mind I was already gone to my hotel room halfway through."

It took a phone call from Prince himself to set things straight. "When you come back, people want to be wowed," he told the rapper. "And what's the best way to wow people? Just give them the hits."

"They actually got Andre Benjamin [as opposed to rap persona Andre 3000] the first night [at Coachella]," Benjamin said. "And I clearly saw they don't want Andre Benjamin."

Five months of festival dates followed, bringing us up to the present: Outkast, performing live in Forest Park at this year's LouFest Music Festival.

Continue to page two.

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