In the realm of musical enigma, André 3000 has spent the last four years becoming an elusive figure, captivating audiences with impromptu performances on a wooden double flute. These sightings, reminiscent of folklore, trigger a social media frenzy, making André’s appearances akin to glimpses of Pan, the Greek god of the wild, engaging in solitary reverie at an outdoor yoga class or wandering through the streets of Tokyo.
Most frequently spotted in Venice, California, André, the Outkast legend, is caught in the act for a documentary about his debut solo album, “New Blue Sun.” This instrumental masterpiece, blending celestial new age and meditative ambient music, is a culmination of André’s half-decade journey mastering the flute. The album, recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La studio, features collaborations with Los Angeles’ top jazz and avant-garde musicians, including Carlos Niño, Nate Mercereau, Surya Botofasina, Matthewdavid, and VCR.
André’s fascination with the flute began with jazz icon John Coltrane, leading him through the evolution from saxophone to bass clarinet and finally settling on the flute. “There was something softer and smoother about the tone of woodwinds,” André reflects. “It just felt right to me.”
“New Blue Sun” marks one of the most radical shifts in pop history for André 3000. Departing from his iconic rap style, the album comprises eight tracks with no raps. The first track, humorously titled “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time,” sets the tone for a mesmerizing exploration of a beatific spirit’s reawakening.
Expressing his anticipation and sincerity, André shares, “I get it. I already expect what’s going to happen. I’m just so happy to share it. I really wanted to make a rap album because, in a way, you really do want to please your fans. I’d love to shut motherfuckers up. It’s the most honest thing I can be doing.”
The mystique surrounding André’s solo endeavors has been palpable since the last Outkast album in 2006. Despite sporadic rumors of studio sessions with renowned producers, André’s creative journey diverged into acting, endorsements, and other ventures. His solo music releases remained elusive, with occasional surprises like a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and a bass clarinet feature alongside James Blake in 2018.
Amidst his creative pursuits, André’s mornings start with a five-mile walk, leading to his studio in El Segundo. Here, he indulges in painting, sculpting, video calls, and designs for his new venture, “A Myriad of Pyramids,” aiming to connect all his artistic pursuits. The flute becomes a constant companion, played throughout the day, and André has even embarked on an apprenticeship to craft the instrument himself.
Reflecting on his artistic evolution, André states, “I’m always interested to see where I am going. I’m watching it happen, too. It’s not like I won’t rap ever again, but this naturally blew this way and felt worthy to share.” As André takes flight once again, listeners are invited to experience the honesty and purity of his musical exploration in “New Blue Sun.”