It's the news that keeps on coming...
In 2008, André Benjamin spoke with Rolling Stone and revealed a piece of info that would end up shadowing his every move going forward.
“I have a concept, and all the soundscapes are already in my head," he shared. "I just have to figure out how to get there." Confirming work on a solo album, the trippier half of OutKast set the world on its ear.
Coming just five years after the musical vision bestowed on OutKast’s Grammy Award-winning Speakerboxx/The Love Below, the news sent an entire music world into a frenzy — and rightfully so. After all, leading up to the news, the man, commonly referred to as Three Stacks, had been running a lap around the rap game with guest features that were all solid enough to earn him repeated slots on annual “Most Anticipated” and “Best Of” lists. “[The album] should be dropping by the end of this year or early next year. I've pretty much been working with myself,” he noted, leading to fervid speculation. But as exciting as it seemed, the announcement would eventually fly across the mythical waters of Detox island, where it has aged in repeated “coming soon” rumors each and every year.
Fast forward to 2012, following outstanding showings on records like Jeezy’s “I Do” and Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter,” Dré sat with GQ and once again discussed this solo LP, stating, “I’ve just really been feeding off of [collaborations] and this year I think I’m planning to do a solo project. I don’t know when it will come out, but hopefully it’ll come out this year.” In the same interview, the ATLien also shot down rumors about a supposed OutKast album. “There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet about an Outkast album and I have to say that as of now, there are no plans for another Outkast album.”
Regardless of the stellar showing on verses for Jeezy, Drake, Frank Ocean, and T.I., 2012 once again came and went without an album from Mr. Benjamin. Of course, 2013 wouldn’t go by without yet another teaser, which this time arrived courtesy of BET executive Stephen Hill.
Me: hey what's up? You got the movie coming,right? Andre 3000: yeah...and I got a solo album coming top of the year. Me:*droptofloor*— Stephen Hill (@StephenGHill) August 3, 2013
According to Hill, he ran into Andre backstage at Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz and T.I.’s America’s Most Wanted tour stop in D.C. and was told that the mysterious album would arrive “top of the year.” Around this time, Dré had been spotted in the studio with Mike WiLL Made It, leading to… yes, more “coming soon” speculation. But as history would prove itself, nothing materialized.
However, a year later André and Big Boi reunited for a yearlong OutKast extravaganza that saw the duo performing 42 festival dates, including Coachella and Governors Ball. After the lengthy trek, Dré would keep with tradition and once again tease the long-gestating solo LP in another interview with Rolling Stone. While previous cases saw him announcing an “end of the year” or “top of the year” release, this noted update actually provided a bit more details as Dré revealed experiencing slight nervousness. “I understand it,” he said. “People stick to ideas that they're familiar with. I mean, I honestly wish that I could make a dope rap album, but I know it would be something else.”
This sort of weird spot he describes would also be mentioned in a separate chat with The New York Times, which saw him describe the yet-finished project as “honest.”
“I know this may sound morbid, but I was like, if I were to die today, I have all these half-songs on my hard drive, and I don’t want that.”
Now eight years since first breaking the news, the status of André 3000’s solo album continues to be shrouded in mystery. No release dates. No Vines or Snapchats of studio sessions (other than a clip with Kanye West during the Pablo sessions). No snippets. Nothing.
But just as 2016 seemed like the year of no “coming soon” album teasers, Chris Rock pulled the rug from under us all Thursday night (April 7), tweeting out a photo with the caption: “hard at work on the new Andre 3000 album.” The photo including a squad of folks, including Rock, Jack White, Dave Chappelle, A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi, D-Nice, and, the subject of this story, André Benjamin himself. Quick note: it’s worth bringing up that Dré had told Billboard earlier this year that he’s “always recording” and would “like to put out some kind of music project.” However this was once again filed in the proverbial ‘Yeah, alright’ file. But Rock provided some color for that aforesaid reveal. Or so, we thought.
After leading the Internet to believe the epic studio session, the comedian’s caption later had to be taken with a grain of salt after original photos from DJ D-Nice (regrammed by Jarobi White) revealed that the crew were all huddled up at Q-Tip’s house to celebrate life and watch the hip-hop film “Beat Street.” De La Soul’s Posdnuos, Queen Latifah and D’Angelo were among the many who were also there.
So as the wait ensues and the mystery grows, the wait for André's solo album continues past another annual checkpoint. For what it's worth, we did get a Kanye-collab from the rap unicorn and learned that he's since experienced a new lease on life with the missed opportunity of OutKast's planned album with A Tribe Called Quest . "For whatever reason, it did not happen," he said. "[But] I don't want to let the time go by, because you never know."