The Evolution of Andre Benjamin

First off, let’s get this out of the way: Andre Benjamin is a Top 10 MC of all time. Haters, either wish him well, go to hell or go to Yale. But with his twangy southern flavor and his nimble, effortless flow, Dre has perfectly complimented Big Boi’s slippery raps to make OutKast albums like Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATLiens, Aquemini and Stankonia some of the genre’s best LPs, period – in Atlanta, and otherwise.

Andre 3000 was always different from his partner in rhyme (and from everybody else, for that matter), but the early 2000’s is when he started to open up. Stylistically, he resorted to multi-colored wigs and bright, psychadelic garb, before switching to dapper suit/bowtie/suspender combinations and flannel shirts and straw hats. Musically, to the chagrin of diehard OutKast fans, his The Love Below half of the duo’s 2003 double LP sounded more like a lost Prince record than one from a rap legend. Combining his new musical tastes with an increased interest in acting, fans feared that Andre’s eccentricity was getting the best of him – or, better yet, getting the best of them as fans of his raps.

Last year’s Idlewild didn’t help much. While spellbinding bars on “The Mighty O” and “Hollywood Divorce” reminded fans of Andre’s unlimited capabilities, his singing outweighed his rap verses. Plus, his refusal to tour for the album and his exiting from OutKast’s label exec duties seemingly verified many listeners’ hunches that The Love Pusha had reorganized his priorities. In “The Mighty O,” Dre claimed to be “bored, kind of like a knight with the sword, without dragons to battle.” While Dre’s raps themselves never sounded uninspired, his lack of rapping did, and OutKast heads expected lackluster efforts from Andre thereafter.

But for the past couple months, Andre has been hurling some curveballs. While the rest of the aforementioned lyric should’ve been a clear indication for his hip-hop love jones – “(without dragons to battle) so I’m running from a shadow/an impossible feat, and I repeat, an impossible feat and I repeat, an impossible feat and I repeat” – Dre looks to be reembracing his roots. The kicker is that he’s been serving his word salad on unlikely cameos: remixes to DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out,” Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s,” and R&B crooner Lloyd’s “You.” Aside from their universal Atlanta origins, Andre 3000 doesn’t seem to have anything in common musically with these three artists, as they specialize in club hits and ladies’ anthems while Dre’s penchant lies in progressive, thought-provoking rhymes and intricate storytelling. This brilliant move shows that Andre isn’t as snobby as his fans: he’s not too big to work with these newcomers…just don’t be surprised when he steals the spotlight with his signature drawl and impeccable delivery. See below for audio of each (UPDATE: props to Noz for the Rich Boy remix).

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Sources are relaying rumblings from an Atlanta studio that Andre is in the pre-production stages of a solo rap album, with a rumored fourth quarter 2007 release. I’ve got a feeling that if this comes to fruition, his “respect is mandatory, end of the story” line will have even more validity.
  • Rizoh

    That’s an interesting way to look at Andre’s phenonmenon. The top 10 best emcees thing is a joke, right?

  • Chris

    that’s some respect on this post for real. i personally have Dre in my top 3. anyone’s who’s listened to him all the way back since Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik knows how good he is, even goin back to his features on TLC remixes if you’re going crazy with it. those who jumped on with “hey ya”, well…

    great read here. all those remixes killed me in the last couple months that he’s popped up on. no one can can say he doesn’t rap because he can’t anymore; it’s a choice of preference with this legend.

  • All Pro

    very good blog………………..I agree alot on what was said here, I really hope Dre emerges from the shadows and releases a solo lp(which im thinking he will) that will help cement his legacy

    Dre has NEVER spit a wack or ok rhyme EVER

  • Badda Bing

    Great post!
    But ummm…Fool
    Did you just say TWANGY???!!!
    smh

  • Flint

    See, I’m totally down that top ten MC thing. You got some listening to do if you don’t agree with that Rizoh. I don’t know about these new tracks he’s guesting on though. I mean I’m glad the man is working out on these youngins’ dime but this is not Andre the Cadillac driving, hard words slanging monster I remember. That twangy, laid back, weird ass accent thing he did on the Rich Boy and UnK tracks annoys me more than Jay-Z’s whisper rap shit. I’m all for evolution and I even liked Love Below and some of Idlewild, but if he’s going to come back rapping, he’s gotta come back sounding like his old self or a new, improved self not this boho rapper thing he’s got going on lately.

  • phantom ranger

    In my book Andre 3000 is a top 5 mc. he is also very talented in other arts as well. I have been an Dungeon Family fan since players ball. Let him sound how he wants, he is just trying to show closed minded people something new. Who wants to hear the same damn thing all the time. Open your minds people. I feel sorry for people who can’t accept diversity. PEACE LOVE RESPECT!!

  • Anonymous

    yo the movie he be in looks stupid, i mean like dumb.
    see what the fuss is
    http://www.beinamovie.com

  • Evolution83

    Dude, for real, mad props bout Dre 3000. I love him, love him, love him. Its so funny that I ran up on this conversation though, because I have had more than one discussion about Dre being in someone’s top of greatest mc’s, and it would always be “he’d be in the top if he did one of two things: came out with a solo album or stopped singing.” So his appearance on all these remixes, I think, makes him better. Dre is the ish, F**k a hater.

  • obie

    Its strange to me that some don’t consider Andre 3000 as a top 3 MC. If he isnt in your top 3, who is? Who can come with a solo album(The Love Below), have everyone from Richie Cunningham to Suge Knight Enthusiast, singing in 50’s jargan, come back and destroy listeners with Mighty O or Hollywood Divorce? I can’t name any other MC with that kind of talent. In fact, I can’t name another MC besides Eminem, who has never had a bad verse. You peoples got some ‘susplaining to do. Clear your minds, clean your ears, open your hearts, and listen if you call yourself a true hip-hop fan.

  • Dionna

    Dre is showing that he is evolving and has become the man. You can’t expect him to sound or rap about the same things he did when he came out. He’s been in the game almost 15 years and that’s practically unheard of! Of course he’s in the top 10 and no one who knows anything about this genre of music can convince themselves that he’s not!

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