Andre 3000 puts Outkast on hold for design aspirations

Andre 3000 will soon show us his creative shoe vision. Photo: Courtesy of Tretorn

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

Outkast fans clamoring for new material from Andre 3000 and Big Boi will just have to keep waiting.

The latest creative outlet for Andre 3000 is more about laces than beats, since the rapper has teamed with footwear brand Tretorn as its creative director.

In an interview with Complex magazine, Andre, who is currently living in New York while working on the shoe campaign, says that rapping isn’t his primary inspiration anymore.

“It’s really just an excitement thing, and where I am in life. I kind of like not being a part of [rap], now that I’ve done it. As I get older, I start to see myself move more back from it—the hustle and bustle of putting out an album, the pressure of being in the studio trying to come up with something. Now it’s more like a hobby for me, so I don’t think about it in that way. Even with Outkast — if we never do another album, I’m totally fine with that,” he told the magazine.

In his new role with Tretorn, Andre, 42, is working with noted streetwear designer Jeff Staple. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tretorn’s iconic Nylite shoe, 50 different artists, including Andre and Staple, will customize their own pairs and showcase them at ComplexCon in November.

From the story: He shows me an image of a shoebox featuring the words “André Benjamin will not draw in class” in his own writing—“‘cause I used to draw a lot in class and get in trouble,” he explains. “If you’re a collector of art you could just save the box!”

“Even the tissue paper will have a whole plethora of just wicked designs, drawings on it,” he adds, showing off a picture of shoebox paper emblazoned with a drawing of a sci-fi-looking insect, what André describes as an “ant with a rugby shirt on.”

The always-stylish Andre 3000, shown at the 2015 Outkast concert in Centennial Olympic Park. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/RobbsPhotos.com

Atlanta-native Andre said he’s been drawing inspiration from what he sees on the streets in New York, including Chinatown and Little Italy.

“You always see dope people on the street. I live not too far from SoHo, so I see the hip new kids. Then nearby, you got the real street Italian gangsters, where [Martin] Scorsese and them grew up [in Little Italy]. Then you see all the cool kids standing in line at the Supreme store,” he said.

The multi-hyphenate performer also gives a shout out to fellow Atlanta rapper Young Thug, who many believe drew direct inspiration from Andre’s androgynous style for his own eclectic look.

“He’s exciting,” André said of Young Thug. “There’s no box. He’s all over the place.”

Andre’s musical partner, Big Boi, recently released his third solo studio album, “Boomiverse,” and despite Big Boi’s stated desire to create new music with Outkast, Andre said the pair has an “understanding that it’s never friction.”

“There’s never pressure of, ‘Hey, man, let’s get back in.’ Of course there’s always money on the table, but it’s never seen that way,” Andre said. “We’ve been blessed to not have to scratch for that money. Maybe it’ll be an issue in the future, but maybe not.”

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