André 3000’s first album in 17 years comes with a peculiar disclaimer: “No bars.”
The beloved Outkast rapper, who has graced tracks with unforgettable guest verses during his yearslong album hiatus, is set to release “New Blue Sun” on Friday. It’s an “entirely instrumental” album in which the rapper will show off his flute skills.
“I’ve been interested in winds for a long time, so it was just a natural progression for me to go into flutes,” André “3000” Benjamin, said in announcing the project. “I just like messing with instruments, and I gravitated mostly toward wind.”
Fans’ shock over Benjamin’s departure from rapping on the album isn’t lost on the flautist. The title for the album’s 12-minute opening track is refreshingly self aware: “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a Rap Album But This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time.”
Although fans have spent years longing for a new André 3000 album, countless internet posts serve as proof that social media users are more than OK with the instrumental offering.
“Andre 3000 bout to go crazy on that flute album,” one social media user declared in a post on X (formerly Twitter). Another person added, “André 3000 could release an album full of bedtime stories and it would still go crazy.”
Naturally, some fans responded to the news with gifs, memes, and jokes.
“When that Andre 3000 album comes out black ppl gon be like “did u hear how that one flute came in behind that other flute just right!?!” one X user wrote in a post. Several internet users shared dancing videos to express how they’ll react to the new album despite there being no lyrics.
Famed percussionist Carlos Niño co-produced the project, and musicians Nate Mercereau, Surya Botofasina, Deantoni Parks, Diego Gaeta, Matthewdavid, V.C.R, Mia Doi Todd, and Jesse Peterson. Benjamin discussed the album and his love for playing flute in an exclusive interview with NPR’s “All Songs Considered” podcast.
“I love rap music because it was a part of my youth,” he told NPR’s Rodney Carmichael. “So I would love to be out here with everybody rapping, because it’s almost like fun and being on the playground. I would love to be out here playing with everybody, but it’s just not happening for me.”
“This is the realest thing that’s coming right now. Not to say that I would never do it again, but those are not the things that are coming right now. And I have to present what’s given to me at the time.”
Benjamin released his last album, “Idlewild,” with OutKast in 2006, but he hasn’t been entirely absent from music since. He has frequently appeared in features for songs, including from Beyoncé, Rick Ross, Chris Brown and Frank Ocean. Over the years, fans have spotted Benjamin walking around and casually playing the flute in cities around the world.
Thanks to the random sightings, fans have begun to liken Benjamin to a mythical creature — only making fleeting appearances and maintaining an air of mystery. In his NPR interview, the artist recalled the moment he learned how important these sightings were to his fans.
“One person actually came up to me on the street and he was like, ‘Man, it’s a thing, it’s a game almost like we’re trying to find you and trying to film you play a flute.’ And that kind of was sucky because it was like a Where’s Waldo? Kind of thing,’” he said.
Now, “New Blue Sun” is Benjamin’s declaration that he’s ready to share his new talent and musical interests in a more official capacity, he told Carmichael.