"Hendrix kind of saved me," said the 39-year-old father of one. "I was in a not-so-great space, just in a dark place every day. I needed something to focus on to get me out of my depression and rut. Sometimes, when you’re alone, you can let yourself go. I knew if I got on a train with a lot of different people, then I couldn’t let them down."
To say that the Outkast member has been reclusive over the years in an understatement, he rarely does interviews and hasn't put an album out in more than a decade. It wasn't until this year that the Outkast momentum picked back up with the announcement of a 20th anniversary tour. André admitted that prior to the jaunt, he had no intentions of ever hitting the road again.
"Honestly, I never planned to go onstage again in that way," said Three Stacks. "If I feel like I’m getting to a place where it’s mimicking or a caricature, I just want to move on. But I felt like: Let me do it now ’cause these kids [in the audience], it feels good to know that they’re happy. I really don’t actually get anything from performing."
The duo's first show on the tour was a shaky set at the Coachella Music Festival. He was noticeably uncomfortable on stage and confessed to not being completely in the moment. "My head wasn’t there," he said. "I kind of fluffed through rehearsals. A few hours before the Coachella show, I get a message that Prince and Paul McCartney are going to be there. My spirit is not right, and idols are standing side-stage, so as the show started, I’m bummed. This is horrible. In my mind I was already gone to my hotel room halfway through."
Two days later, he received a phone call from Prince that helped him find his performance mojo on stage, yet he's not exactly over the fear of disappointing his fans and peers. Even after winning Grammys and becoming one of the biggest acts in hip hop, he deals with insecurities. For starters, he refuses to be "a 40-year-old rapper" despite being close to reaching the marker. "I'm 39 now, and I’m still standing by that. I’m such a fan that I don’t want to infiltrate it with old blood," proclaimed the Atlanta native.
"I struggle with the verses. I don’t sit around and write raps, I just don’t," he continued. "Now the only time I’m really inspired to write raps is if an artist that I enjoy invites me to their party. So if Future calls and says, 'Hey man, I want you to do this,' I don’t want to let Future down. I don’t want to let Lil Wayne or Drake down, because I love them."
Along with getting back on stage, and shooting the Hendrix film, he's been raising the now 16-year-old son he shares with Erykah Badu, Seven Benjamin. The teen came to live with him two years ago and gives his dad music pointers. "Him and his buddies, they’ll be in the car, and I’ll say, 'Hey, what do you think about this verse?' That’s my gauge at this point, I don’t have the pulse. Part of art is knowing when not to put paint on. And when to change your medium."
New music is still in the plans, but the method –– rapping or singing –– has yet to be determined. "I’m just going to call it 'honest,'" he said. "I know this may sound morbid, but I was like, if I were to die today, I have all these half-songs on my hard drive, and I don’t want that."
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(Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)