While Andre 3000 has spent a majority of his career as one half of the futuristic, soul-heavy Outkast, that hasn’t stopped a legion of fans from crowning him as one of the most gifted lyricists of our time.
But if you were to ask the East Atlanta native himself, he’d humbly decline the lofty title.
During a recent sit down with GQ, the 42-year-old admits that not only is his partner-in-rhyme Big Boi better at rapping but that he has never considered himself a great emcee. While most attribute Dre’s The Love Below as a prime contradiction of this, the artist has a far more unconventional theory on his skill set. “It’s hard drives of me just in the house alone playing horrible guitar,” Dre explains. “Me playing piano. Me playing a little sax. I was trying to find out: What can I be excited about? Because I never was, to me, a great producer or a great writer or a great rapper.
“I always felt that I was less than everybody else, so I fought harder,” he continues. “My only gauge to know when something was good was how I felt it. Like, Oh, man, this is dope. Or, this is new.”
Elsewhere in the interview, 3 Stacks touches on his relationship with Big Boi and how it was cultivated out of the nuances of high school with his partner-in-rhyme taking the lead. “When you watch early OutKast videos, Big Boi’s the leader,” Dre said. “He always had the confidence, where I was kind of like the shy one. Big Boi can rap better than me – I always said that. If somebody said, “Pick who you want from OutKast to go to battle with you,” it wouldn’t be me. ’Cause like, what I’ma do? Say some mind sh*t? You can’t have thoughts in a battle – nobody gives a sh*t about that.”
Dre’s acknowledgment of his self-proclaimed inferiority as an emcee doesn’t come as much of shock, considering the rapper stated back in August that he was “totally fine” with never doing another OutKast album again. Later during the interview, however, Dre admits that despite loathing the studio, he has returned as a result of being inspired by newer, younger artists, but that he doesn’t believe it’s enough to jump-start his dead battery. “I’ve been working on producing a few artists. A couple projects,” he admits. “But here’s the crazy thing: I don’t have the pulse anymore.
“Rhythms change every generation,” he adds. “The intensity and the drums change. And I’m not on the pulse. I can’t pretend. It’s kinda like watching your uncle dance. So the only thing I can do is this kind of novelty, off thing for them.”