In a new interview with GQ magazine, he admitted to having social anxiety and said it started about 15 years ago, around the time of the group’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” album.
“I was diagnosed with this social thing. I didn’t notice it until I became an entertainer,” Andre explained. “I don’t know if it’s the shock of all kinds of people coming up to you or the expectations, but I got to this place where it was hard for me to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous … And it started to bleed over into my normal life. I’d just meet new people, and I would freak out or have to leave.”
Andre also said that he was reluctant to tell his friends about having social anxiety because he didn’t want to seem like a weak link among them. Instead, he started to spend more time by himself and eventually stopped touring with Outkast.
Prior to that, the group hadn’t been on a major tour in over a decade, and Andre’s partner Big Boi had to record and play shows alone. But Big Boi never bad mouthed Andre as a result or aired dirty laundry, which some may say he deserves huge credit for.
Another reason that Andre stepped away from music has to do with the death of his mother Sharon Benjamin-Hodo, who passed away from natural causes in 2013. His father Lawrence Walker also died in February 2014 of a heart attack.
Since then, the rapper said he’s been in a rut and often sat around his Atlanta home and didn’t do much. At the same time, he would come up with all of these wonderful ideas that he would never be able to complete.
“I was in all three holes,” he said. “I was in a creative hole, a personal hole and I was still not dealing with my mom and my father’s deaths. And really, I don’t know if I have still … The problem with being successful is you can do whatever you do times ten and no one to stop you. You can easily go down the wrong path and you get into that place, and the thing that brings you out is other people.”
The “Hey Ya!” creator also said the mourning of his father was twofold, because of the way he died.
“When my dad passed away, there was mourning for him dying, but there was a whole ’nother wave of mourning because I realized, ‘Whoa, he died in his house alone.’ And I wondered, ‘Had he done everything he wanted to do?’”
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Due to the death of his parents, having social anxiety and admitting to not being on the pulse of rap’s current sound, Andre hasn’t delivered one of his mind blowing verses in quite some time.
Yes, in 2016, he appeared on Frank Ocean’s cut “Solo,” Travis Scott’s song “The Ends” and A Tribe Called Quest’s latest album but outside of that he’s been quiet.
As for Outkast, their last album was 2006’s “Idlewild,” an album that was made for their movie of the same name. It’s also been an extremely long time since they ran the Atlanta rap scene.
In 1994, Andre and Big Boi would drop their classic album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” which would introduce hip-hop fans to a lush, melodic sound produced in large part by the Atlanta team Organized Noize.
Before Outkast, rap music in the South was heavily associated with the booty shaking sounds of Miami Bass and groups like 2 Live Crew were on top. But Outkast, along with fellow Dungeon family crew members the Goodie Mob, changed that around and brought attention to intricate wordplay, storytelling and song concepts that weren’t always about street life.
Today, much of Atlanta’s rap music sounds completely different and the social conscious rhymes of Outkast and Goodie Mob has been replaced by trap music. Plus, themes of Black empowerment and individuality have also been replaced by money, materialism and raunchy sex in much of the music scene. Surely, Outkast touched on those themes as well, but those themes didn’t drive their music.
During his GQ interview, Andre said he’s only producing for other acts nowadays, and he didn’t mention anything about rapping or writing verses. In fact, when it comes to delivering rap bars, the 42-year-old said Big Boi has always been better than he is.
“When you watch early Outkast videos, Big Boi’s the leader,” he 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–? You can’t have thoughts in a battle. Nobody gives a sh– about that.”
Andre also said that he believes there’s one more musical project in him. But whether that will be an Outkast release is obviously unknown. Still, the rapper said he has no regrets and feels he and the group accomplished all they should have.
“But if I were to drop dead right now, honestly, we’ve done it,” he stated. “And that’s the truth. You know what I mean? Here’s the only thing that I would regret: Man, you know, there is still that album that you wanted to do.”