For most, it would probably be safe to assume the praise a musician received for his past work would fuel his creativity for future projects.
But in Andre 3000‘s case, the critical acclaim and commercial success he’s already gotten has harmed his creativity.
It’s something he said on “Broken Record,” the podcast hosted by Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin, writer Malcolm Gladwell and former New York Times media desk editor Bruce Headlam.
Of course, Andre grew to fame with his partner Big Boi in their group OutKast, and some might say if there were a Mount Rushmore for Southern hip-hop, both rappers would make up two of the four faces.
In fact, this past October, a huge mural was created of the two legends in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood, which shows how much they’re still loved — despite not dropping an album since 2006’s “Idlewild.”
At the 13:38 mark of the interview, Rubin asked Andre how he creates music these days, and the 44-year-old said he’s not writing songs at all.
“I haven’t been making much music,” said Andre. “My focus is not there. My confidence is not there. I tinker a lot. I’ll just go to a piano and I’ll set my iPhone down and just record what I’m doing, moving my fingers and whatever happens, but I haven’t been motivated to do a serious project.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Andre talked about how he dislikes the instant criticism that music gets on the Internet these days, which he says makes it hard for him to create.
And he talked about his past success as well and how it hinders his ability to write songs. Basically, Andre said it’s hard for him to come up with new music without thinking about the listener’s experience or how he’ll be critiqued.
“The problem with being an artist, a successful artist, is that you have to find a comfortable place to do that again,” he explained.
“I liken it to a kid playing in their room with toys. You have this world going on,” added the legendary rapper. “The moment your mom opens the door and says, ‘Andre’ that world kind of stops.”
“Once the attention is on that world, the world goes away. So you have to find a way to get back to that place to where you can build those worlds again and not have the eyes or the judging and that’s hard for me,” stated Andre.
The talented wordsmith then said he misses the days of being an artist who existed under the radar and how freeing that time was.
“Maybe I don’t have the confidence I want or the space to experiment like I used to because the stuff that people love from back then, it was made [without being scrutinized],” said Andre. “You didn’t give a sh–, you didn’t care and they didn’t care. They didn’t even like you. So it was like, ‘Great, don’t like what we’re doing so we can keep doing what we’re doing.'”
The “Hey Ya” writer also said his “history is kinda handicapping him” when it comes to writing new tunes. And he admitted to now trying to define himself as an artist, while determining what musical approach makes him “feel the best.”
“And what makes me feel the best is when I just do these random instrumental things,” Andre explained. “They make me feel the most rebellious … I don’t like to go with the flow, really. I don’t know why but I just feel best when I don’t, so I have to honor that.”