Rapper André 3000 continues to prove he’s innovative after releasing his first solo album, which included none of his famed lyrical prowess. Even though “New Blue Sun” is purely instrumental, it still found its way under the “rap” genre, and fans are upset.
André cemented himself as an Atlanta legend and one of the greatest lyricists ever as a member of the iconic rap duo Outkast. He, along with his partner in crime Big Boi, helped bring the Southern influence to hip-hop culture, which is still prevalent to this day.
While the pair spent over a decade together as the groundbreaking group, they both went their separate ways around the late 2000s. Even though they split, they continued to rap up until the very recent past with both artists being seen on projects from this year.
After showing up on Killer Mike’s song “Scientist and Engineers,” alongside Future in June, 3 Stacks switched it up with his newest batch of music. Ditching his signature wordplay, the 48-year-old focused on ambiance and spirituality in the album “New Blue Sun,” which was released on Nov. 17.
The rapper-turned-flutist talked about the major change of pace in an interview with GQ. He said, “Sometimes it feels inauthentic for me to rap because I don’t have anything to talk about in that way. I’m 48 years old.”
André even named one of the tracks on his instrumental solo André, “I Swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time.”
Some fans, who felt like the rapper had a lot left in his tank, felt let down by his first project in 17 years. Yet, others praised André’s new woodwind-based journey. Pitchfork, a popular music outlet known for reviewing artists’ music, was one of the groups that applauded “New Blue Sun,” calling it “beautiful, demanding, and among the most fascinating artistic left turns in recent memory.”
The outlet, launched by Ryan Schreiber, also labeled under it’s “Best New Album” section, which it uses to showcase “the finest music of the current moment.” While they sang André’s praises, eagle-eyed fans noticed something about the review that didn’t sit right; the album was labeled under the “Rap/Experimental” genre.
Fans took issue with this, as no words are rhymed throughout the album’s entirety. Some people believe that it was considered a rap album just because of André’s race, and his past.
Commenters went in on Pitchfork, including one who said, “Not everything Black ppl do is rap… I wouldn’t expect a staff of white folks to understand that.” Another wrote, “Black artist makes music Critics: ‘This must be rap or R&B somehow.’”
Black artist makes music— Hip Hop All Day (@HipHopAllDayy) November 20, 2023
Critics: "this must be rap or r&b somehow"
Some even equated this generalization of André’s new music to a situation that happened with Tyler, the Creator. One fan commented, “Tyler the creator talked about this s–t awhile back they see a person of our pigment and wanna label it urban…”
In January 2020, Tyler won the Grammy for “Best Rap Album” with his “IGOR” release. The artist was conflicted as he said he was “grateful” for the win. But he felt that calling his music rap was a “backhanded compliment.”
After the win, Tyler told reporters, “It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category.” He also added that he felt the word “urban” was used as a placeholder for anything Black.