Andre 3000 is opening up on love, life, legacy and music with his friend’s at ‘Gentleman’s Quarterly’.
How he feels about his life as it is today?
On losing his father…
When my dad passed away, there was mourning for him dying, but there was a whole ‘nother wave of mourning because I realized, Whoa, he died in his house alone. And I wondered: Had he done everything he wanted to do?…I don’t know [if he died in peace]. I don’t think so. He had all these troubles the last few years. He had to get his heart valve replaced and prostate cancer and colon cancer, and it’s kinda back-to-back-to-back at a certain point. But I think we made amends, and that was a cool thing. I do miss not being able to talk to him about him living alone and not ever being married. I think I would have gotten a lot of great insight. I think he would have told me something. Growing up, I would always see these great women, like, Oh, man, she’s cool. Or, She’s really cool–she has her stuff together, and they have a great chemistry. But for some reason, he kept not making it happen, and that’s always happened with me. I know my son looks at me like, Yeah, man, she was cool. Or, Oh, man, she’s, like, great, beautiful. And it’s always me not going to the next step. So I know my kid sees it the same way.
On his mother?
My mom was everything. I grew up a mama’s boy completely. When I was small, she was like a dictator. I understand it now, but she still went hard. And I think when a male is not there, the woman goes harder. I would wrestle with my mom. Me and her, going at it. And then you go through this “Ah, man, I hate my mom” phase. And then one day–I think it was Mother’s Day or Valentine’s. I was 23 or 24. I took her out to the movies, and I’d left something in the car, and when I walked back to meet her, I looked at her and caught her face in such a way that I thought, “Oh, wow, that’s Mom.” It’s like that moment where she’s not just this person that took care of you. It’s like, Whoa, she’s a woman and she’s my mom. When you’re growing up, your parents are trying to set this great example for you, so they won’t tell you all their shit. I think more parents should tell kids their shit. It takes a lot of pressure off the kids to realise. Phew, I’m not the only person in the world that can’t get this shit completely right.
When I was around 35, my mom pulled me to the side in the kitchen. Out of nowhere, she was like, ‘You know, when you were 5, I used to go and do crack.’ She was like, ‘It was new during that time. I was dating this drug-dealer guy, and he sold cocaine, and we would do cocaine, and that was like a normal thing.’ And she said, ‘Me and that guy broke up, and I had to find something to get high, and there was this new thing called crack.’ So she tried it, and there it was. And the person that she ended up marrying was the guy that used to keep me when she would go do crack…I think it was more that I triggered it, because at that time, I was doing drugs. I wasn’t doing hard drugs–she saw me smoking [weed] all the time, and I think she saw me going down a path. I think she was trying to tell me the story to help me. She said, ‘You know, I left this dude, and I had to get my own apartment at that point, and I was still smoking crack, and when I moved into this apartment, I guess the people that lived there before left a tennis racket in the corner.’ So at the time, she was like, ‘I’m gonna take tennis lessons.’ Two years later she looked up and she hadn’t taken one, ’cause she was doing drugs. The tennis racket was the thing that made her know ‘I missed all that time.’
On his persona…
My life has changed a lot. I was a vegan/vegetarian for like 14, 15 years. After our first album, we were going hard, out on the road, doing drugs, partaking in every woman, and I started to see myself deteriorate. I would look in the mirror and be like, ‘You look like shit.’ So I got to a point where I said, I gotta stop. So I went that way and tried it. What’s funny is this idea that people have of me as being straight-edge. My homie Cee-Lo, from Goodie Mob, he has this joke. He’s like, ‘Man, I don’t know why these women think we’re sitting cross-legged with incense like some Buddhists, praying with our hands. I mean, we out here fucking these bitches.’ We’re human. I try to find the goodness in the world and like, you know, I mean, even Jesus–Jesus had to get a little bit, you know what I mean? I mean, I hate to say it like this, but Martin Luther King, he was out there, you know what I mean? Just because you have a natural urge and you follow it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t want the best for people and the best for yourself. And now, to be honest, when I write about sex, it’s more like: I’m on a time clock. I’m getting older, so you want to get it all in.
On social anxiety?
I was diagnosed with this social thing. I didn’t notice it until I became an entertainer. I don’t know if it’s the shock of all kind of people coming up to you, or the expectations, but I got to this place where it was hard for me to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous…It started to bleed over into my normal life. I’d just meet new people and I would freak out or have to leave…Before [Speakerboxxx/The Love Below ] album, I moved to California. It started a little bit before then, and I just chucked it off as Aw, yeah, man, I just need to take a break. And I started to notice it getting worse and worse. Because the more you run from it, the worse it gets. You don’t want to explain it, because you don’t want to be a weak link around your friends. I never told my crew for a long time, so I just started getting to myself. Spending more time with myself and stopped touring. And it felt great for me to do that, because it’s like, Phew, I don’t like that life, I don’t like that confrontation…A curse can also be a gift. So if you’re watching the ‘Hey Ya!’ video or that performance, I was really nervous. So it made me just move really fast. In the ‘Hey Ya’ video, I didn’t make that shit up like a routine or anything. They were just like, Go! And I’m like, All right. Fuck. [moves fast] And of course that’s what people responded to. And I hated it. So after those times, it was like, All right, I’m done.
He then went on to detail his love for Anita Baker.
Well, my mom used to work in a beauty salon. She did nails and had a little booth, and at a beauty salon, there’s always somebody coming in and selling something, be it cologne, or stolen clothes, or phones that last like a month. And a guy came in, back in the day, with a box of cassettes–my mom purchased these Anita Baker bootlegs. She played them all the time at home, and I started to realize, like, Whoa, I enjoy this. As you get older, the people you love pop back up. I was going through an Anita Baker phase, and I started trying to buy a T-shirt. So I go on the Internet and I find this site that had shirts with photos of Anita on them. So I bought two or three of them. Then when I got ’em in the mail, they were like—the part of the shirt where the picture was printed on there was so hard…It feels like this big piece of wood on your chest. So it’s like, ‘Man, this clearly has to be bootleg.’ I felt bad about it, because it’s like, I know Anita ain’t got shit to do with these shirts. I’m an artist, and I’m buying bootleg shirts of another artist, so I felt bad. So I was like, Maybe, so my conscience feels good, let me try to find an address for Anita and send her a little check. And it’ll be a joke, like, ‘Anita, I just bought these shirts, I feel bad about it, here’s $50.’ Then I started thinking, Wouldn’t it be great to design a line of Anita Baker tees and present the line to Anita? Maybe she needs some merch.”
Easily one of our favourite Andre interviews.