If there’s one thing 3 Stacks is going to do, it’s defy expectations. For years fans of the ATL native have asked for solo material, and we finally have it —just not in the form we pictured it. Many were expecting André 3000 to drop an eclectic and genre-pushing hip-hop project to celebrate his return to the spotlight. What we received instead is a jazzy, lo-fi, chill flute album that’s both a departure from 3000’s previous work while also being perfectly in tune with his alternative music style.
Before we can get to the new album, we have to talk about how we got here, at least a little bit. When Outkast went on hiatus in 2007, one of the things that persisted throughout the years was fans and people in the industry asking, “When is the André 3000 solo album coming out?” And André would pop up now and then. He’d be seen out and about, or a picture would surface of him and another artist hanging out together. He would even occasionally feature on some songs. One of which got him a Grammy, and others brought in numerous nominations for the prestigious award. So it wasn’t like we never saw Dré. It’s just that we were kind of starving for that 3000 solo project. It was like an itch that you just can’t seem to scratch, a yearning that won’t dissipate no matter how hard you try to move on. But now, those days are over.
Announced on November 14, New Blue Sun mixes an interesting and dynamic composition with both acoustic and electronic instrumentation. It features André playing different styles of flute over these soulful and moving soundscapes featuring piano, percussion, and guitar. The album has an EP length of eight songs and a runtime of 1 hour and 27 minutes. And what a glorious hour and 27 minutes it is. It’s the kind of music that fans can vibe out to, meditate to, or even use when the sound of pure quiet is too oppressive. Think lo-fi on a rainy day or the soundtrack to accompany a quiet work period. The songs are also composed in such a way that they seamlessly blend into one another so the listening experience never feels disjointed or abrupt.
Something to note about the album is the way that the aesthetic lends itself to the overall experience. One look at the tracklist paints a picture of the kind of musical journey one is about to embark on. With titles such as, “That Night in Hawaii When I Turned into a Panther and Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control … Sh¥t Was Wild” and “Ninety Three ‘Til Infinity and Beyoncé,” some of these almost sound like a mission statement of life. Every song title paints such a vivid picture of a concept, a story, or a riddle told to you as you go on an enlightening pilgrimage to find yourself. It’s all about the vibes, and the vibes are giving soothing enrichment. This works the same way that chicken noodle soup to help you feel better during a cold. How fitting that this would drop smack dab in the middle of autumn.
The opening track “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time” sets both the standard for the rest of the project while also acknowledging the elephant in the room. Most fans expected a rap album. But as the song tells us, when creativity hits there’s no telling how the wind will blow you. And 3 Stacks just so happened to be in a flute-playing, experimental jazz mood.
In previous years leading up to the announcement of New Blue Sun it wasn’t unusual to see André out playing the flute in various places. He even contributed to the soundtrack for the 2022 film Everything Everywhere All At Once with his flute playing. This direction in his musical evolution is surprising but not as much of a shock as one would think. Benjamin said of the album on November 14 when said album was announced, that it is “not a rap record.” He added that the project “contains no bars,” something that is certainly true, as there are no spoken words whatsoever. It’s pure instrumentation from start to finish.
Though New Blue Sun, is not the André 3000 album we expected, it may have been the album we never knew we needed. So it looks like Lo-Fi Hip-Hop Girl might have some competition as there’s a new study playlist in town. This one came as a surprise gift from an old friend we’ve been waiting to hear from.
What's Your Reaction?
Gamer, anime fan, and lover of TV and movies. I've been a writer since 2017.