Calls for André 3000 to release a solo record, or another recording with Outkast, have followed the musician for nearly two decades. It’s been 17 years since the last Outkast album, and the expectations around his musical output have only grown in that time — meanwhile, he has been roaming around various cities puttering around with his flute. That meandering has brought André 3000 to New Blue Sun, his debut solo album, set for release on Friday, Nov. 17.
Part of finally coming around to releasing a new body of work was the condition that he would do it on his own terms. New Blue Sun isn’t the rap album many listeners might have expected André 3000 to return with. Instead, it’s a collection of instrumental offerings on which he plays a myriad of different flutes.
“I have songs, but it’s not like rap things that I really feel happy about sharing. And really, that’s the most important part. I have to feel happy about sharing it,” the musician told NPR Music in a recent interview. “That’s why New Blue Sun was something that I realized, whoa, I really want people to hear it. I really want to share it. That’s my only gauge. I have to like it as a person, as an artist myself, because if I don’t like it I can’t expect nobody else to like it. I can’t pretend in that way. That’s always been hard for me.”
New Blue Sun emerged from unconstrained collaborative sessions with other musicians, including keyboardist Alice Coltrane, acolyte Surya Botofasina, and multi-instrumentalist Nate Mercereau. André 3000 had relocated from New York, where he was often spotted with his flute, to Los Angeles, where he started to consider the interests of a younger audience — one that might not hold his own history over him so much.
Two artists in particular, Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator, served as a sounding board for the record. “I started just playing it for friends and playing it for artists and playing it for people I respect or people who I felt would get it,” André 3000 explained, adding: “I respect them as musicians. Like new energy; they’re going for it, man. So I really respect their opinions. I play it for my homies. I play it for friends, play it for artists, directors — just to see their reaction more than anything. So I was just happy with what I was getting.”
Over the last few years, André 3000 has provided flute-driven contributions to Hollywood, particularly on A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once soundtrack and in the comedy-drama Showing Up.
New Blue Sun Tracklist:
“I Swear, I Really Wanted To Make A “Rap” Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time”
“The Slang Word P(*)ssy Rolls Off The Tongue With Far Better Ease Than The Proper Word Vagina. Do You Agree?”
“That Night In Hawaii When I Turned Into A Panther And Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control … Sh¥t Was Wild”
“BuyPoloDisorder’s Daughter Wears A 3000™ Button Down Embroidered”
“Ninety Three ‘Til Infinity And Beyoncé”
“Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Your Lord & Savior J.C. / Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, And John Wayne Gacy
Ants To You, Gods To Who?”
“Dreams Once Buried Beneath The Dungeon Floor Slowly Sprout Into Undying Gardens”