Andre 3000 addressed his concerns over this summer’s Outkast reunion in a conversation with experimental electronic artist Nicolas Jaar for The Fader, admitting that his custom jumpsuits — each emblazoned with a unique phrase — were a way of injecting something fresh into the parade of nostalgia.
“I felt weird about going out on stage and doing it again,” said the rapper, whose real name is Andre Benjamin. “I felt like people would be like, ‘Y’all are doing all these festivals, y’all are just doing it for money.’ And I felt like a sell-out, honestly. So I was like, if I’m in on the joke, I’ll feel cool about it.”
The idea for the jumpsuits — all of which are now on display at Art Basel in Miami — came after Outkast’s comeback show at Coachella, which Benjamin curtly called “horrible.” In fact, Benjamin didn’t even want to do the tour. Not only had he and Big Boi not performed together in nearly a decade, but Benjamin was having trouble getting excited about his old music as well.
“I’m like, How am I gonna present these songs? I don’t have nothing new to say,” he said. “So I was like, maybe I can start saying new stuff while doing these old songs. It became a theme where I was more excited about this than the actual show. This is fun, running out in these.”
The phrases on the jumpsuits ran the gamut from poignant and provocative (“Across cultures, darker people suffer most. why?”) to silly (“Art or fart?”). Each was paired with a platinum wig and boasted a price tag that read “SOLD” on one side — a knowing wink to the crowd.
“I’m 39, I got a 17-year-old kid and I gotta support certain things,” Benjamin said. “And my partner Big Boi is like, ‘This is a great thing for all of us.’ So I felt like there was a certain sell-out in a way, because I didn’t wanna do it — I knew I was doing it for a reason. So maybe if I’m telling people, ‘I am selling out,’ then it’s not as bad as pretending. It’s being honest about it like, ‘Shit, I did these songs when I was 17 and I’m out here peddling them now.’ But it’s the honest thing, that’s what it is.”
Outkast wrapped up their massive reunion tour in early November at the Voodoo festival in New Orleans. Amidst the duo’s packed schedule, Benjamin was also promoting his latest endeavor, Jimi: All By My Side, a Hendrix biopic that starred the rapper as the guitar virtuoso. The film arrived in theaters in late September.