A to Z – Andre 3000

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Over the next couple months here on SteadyBloggin, I’ve decided to choose an underappreciated topic for each letter A-through-Z, and explain why it should be deserving of your attention.  Because there are so many reasons to listen to rap, and unfortunately some of them go unnoticed.

A is for Andre 3000.

Andre isn’t the most underrated or unnoticed in the game, I’ll admit that.  But he is definitely underappreciated, and he was always the more talented member of one of the best duos of all time.

Because first, you have the albums.  Between six full length records you don’t have to dig much deeper than Outkast’s debut single Players Ball to hear Andre outshine his counterpart, as the performances on the song, along with the rest of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, foreshadow the remainder of the group’s catalogue.  And that’s not to say Big Boi isn’t skilled in his own right, because he is, and in a lot of groups he would be the better rapper.  Just not in this one.

Then we got ATLiens, Aquemini, and Stankonia from Outkast.  You can, and I will, make the statement that Dre was the motivation behind the Outkast sound for (at least) these three albums.  If you look comparatively at the solo work of Big Boi, and the solo work of Andre 3000, there’s an obvious difference in style.  Big Boi has always put out records with, for lack of a more appropriate description, a safer sound, while Andre seems to eternally be trying to expand his craft and evolve with each album.  These three albums progressively developed the Outkast sound similar to the way Andre continues to develop his own.  ATLiens took the sound from Southernplayalistic and tweaked it a little bit, making it a little more spacey and soulful, and a lot more who-cares-what-you-think.  3000 essentially perfected the sound with Aquemini, and then changed it up even more with Stankonia.

You could also argue that any one of the first four Outkast albums was their best.  The truth is that Aquemini is, and always will be.  It was easily the most polished.  It’s a top five album in Rap, ever.  Every verse Andre has is dope.  His patterns on the album (and in his other work) still amaze me.  He has the ability to structure a verse in any way he wants, and not once does it sound unnatural.  And he still continues to grow stylistically on the album.

Following Stankonia, another experimental sounding album that was the result of the most obvious change between projects for Outkast (the patterns are still innovative), Andre 3 Stacks put out The Love Below to go along with Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx.  The Love Below left diehard Outkast fans not knowing what to think.  Featuring the singles Hey Ya and Roses, it doesn’t belong in the same genre as all other Outkast releases.  But either way, it’s a dope album musically.  What’s even more impressive, is Andre produced the entire album himself, with the exception of the previously mentioned Roses.  And in case his fans were worried, A Day in the Life of Benjamin Andre is the only song on the album Andre raps, and he definitely doesn’t disappoint.

And then there are the guest appearances.

One of the first guest appearances from Andre 3000 came in ‘95 on the Goodie Mob classic Thought Process.  He had the last verse on the track, usually the slot reserved for the best or most anticipated verse, and rightfully so.  Following Cee-Lo in his Goodie Mob days is no easy task, but Andre, while completely relaxed, blends on the beat better than any member of the Mob, delivering one of the best verses on the Soul Food album.

And he is still killing every verse he drops 15 years later.

Backing up to 2006, Andre crushes his verse on the Walk It Out Remix.  Which is just a horrible, horrible song.  Why he hopped on the remix of this, instead of something that wasn’t hot garbage, I do not know.  I can only guess money.  Lucky for everyone he has the first verse, so you only need to listen to 1:30 of the song until you can hit stop (unless, for some reason, you’re a Jim Jones fan).

Since 2007, 3 Stacks does an average of three verses a year (’07 – 6, ’08 – 2, ’09 – 1, ’10 – 4), and with the exception of 2008 – wherein his verses just aren’t on the same level, drops one of the better verses of each year.  In 2007 Dre got (not got, but GOT) Jay-Z and Ice Cube on the 30 Something Remix, follows that up with one of the best verses of the year on Devin the Dude’s What A Job, and tops that with, in my opinion, the best verse of the year on (arguably the best song of the year) UGK’s International Players Anthem.  On his only appearance of 2009, Royal Flush alongside Big Boi and Raekwon, Andre takes one minute and 40 seconds to stake his claim to one of the best verses of the year.  Last year, he takes care of business on both Big Boi’s Looking For You, and I Do with Young Jeezy.  This year he’s off to another solid start doing damage on Kesha’s Sleazy Remix.  Don’t worry; Andre has the first verse again, so you won’t be forced to suffer through too much Kesha.

Andre 3000 is in his mid 30’s now, and as much faith as I have in him being able to kill every guest appearance until he’s 45, I’d prefer if we could get at least one more Outkast album instead.

I just don’t know if that will ever happen.

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