As the brand ambassador and “Master of Style” for Gillette, Andre 3000 is asking men to handle their facial hair with care. The OutKast rapper is supporting the Movember initiative for men to sprout and shape moustaches through the month, encouraging growers to upload a snapshot to Gillette’s Facebook app each day. For every pic put on the web, Gillette and its partner, Prostate Cancer Foundation, will donate one dollar to prostate and testicular cancer initiatives, as well as display the best ‘staches on a billboard in Times Square.
While in New York on the eMO’gency Styler Tour, Andre spoke with Rolling Stone about being considered a style icon, “making history” with Gillette and his biggest hair mistake of all time.
What made you want to get involved with Gillette as a style ambassador?
They reached out and they were doing a new campaign for style. They were like, “We’ve been doing research and we’ve noticed that men are changing facial hair.” In the history of Gillette, which is 150 years now, they never had anybody in their ads with facial hair. It’s always a clean-shaven guy. The world’s different now, so you see guys with beards. They’re trying to address that and the styling products to kind of do anything. I just felt honored that they considered me a stylish person and I just thought it was cool. I like to make history when I can. Today, we’re just taking it a step further with their support with Movember. So it’s all these cool guys with facial hair that supports a cool cause, prostate cancer. Women get their cool breast cancer thing. We need something cool, too.
So obviously, Movember is coming along pretty well for you.
I’ve been [doing] Movember since I was about 25.
Has this inspired you to style your facial hair differently?
I can’t do too much. My hair doesn’t really grow [on the sides of my face], it’s just kind of little pieces. My beard can really grow long, but I don’t want to look like Fu Manchu. I just keep it right here.
You’ve been looked at as a style icon in the hip-hop world, in that you take risks. Is your sense of style validated often?
Not often. But you know, in the business, it’s all about selling product and publications. So if you’re hot that year, you get that: “Oh, that person’s stylish!” And it’s really sometimes just to bring attention to the publication. So sometimes, you don’t know if you’re really stylish, or am I just cool for right now?
When you look back on your fashion choices over the years, is there anything that you regret?
One time, I just wanted color in my hair. I’ve always been obsessed with people who live underwater and mermaids and people from outer space, and my idea of what people from outer space would look like from other planets would be that everyone had white hair. For some reason, I’m obsessed with really old people with beautiful white, silver hair. I’ve always wanted to have it. So onstage, I started to wear white wigs. I really dug that, but then I took it a step further and had someone weave in white hair in my hair. So it was this white sculpture kind of thing. It really wasn’t cool at all.
You had a white hair weave?
Yes. It was not cool.
I mean, it sounds cool in theory.
Yeah! It was theatrical, I could say that. But when I look back on it, I was like, yeah, you were really having fun that day.
Over the past few years, we really haven’t seen much of you in the public eye. When you were doing the Gillette campaign, it came as sort of a surprise because it doesn’t seem like something you would normally do. What does it take for you to endorse something?
I think because I’ve been in the business for a long time, it has to be a reason. I don’t just do it because it’s here. Early in my career, you do everything that you can do to get out there. But now, being famous is not even cool to me anymore. It’s almost lame to be an entertainer now. It’s not fun. I kind of have to pick projects that I’m happy about or I feel like it’s a history-making thing, like it was cool to be part of this. At this point, it’s about making history more than making anything. The older you get, the more you’re like, everything has to count. You don’t just do stuff.
What’s been your reaction to people growing out moustaches for Movember?
It’s cool styles. One of my favorites is that right now, in 2012, you’ve got handlebars. That’s such an 1800s kind of thing, but it’s cool when you’re wearing jeans and boots. It’s like, I don’t know, like you should ride a [penny-farthing].
What do you hope this campaign accomplishes?
It’s stuff that’s going on anyways in the streets, but I think Gillette has tapped it and it’s about presenting it to the world and saying, hey, you got these guys. It’s not just one look. For 150 years, it was the clean-shaven look. That’s all that you had. Now, you have guys from all walks of life with different styles. It’s really just saying it’s a diverse world with facial hair. That’s it. With Movember, it’s the guys with that hair; now they can do something with it. Prostate cancer is really huge, especially in the African American community. It’s style for a good cause.