André 3000 Shares Lessons On Life, Growth With Students At Morehouse College

While in Atlanta for his “New Blue Sun” tour, André 3000 stopped by Morehouse College to speak with Atlanta area college students from the Atlanta University Center, Georgia State University, and Georgia Tech. As part of the Sony Music University, the intimate event was moderated by hip-hop scholar Joycelyn Wilson and acclaimed artist Fahamu Pecou. 

Held at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, the students gathered in a circle on stage as André 3000 shared lessons on life and growth. 

He spoke fondly about the beginning of his career with OutKast and how he and his rap partner Big Boi started the group as teens after seeing other rappers who came before them. But while they both had dreams of making it big in hip-hop, Atlanta lacked a musical infrastructure at the time. 

“When we were in high school, Atlanta did not have an identity at all,” André shared. “It was New York or West Coast rap music and that was it.”

After meeting Rico Wade of Organized Noise, the duo would sign with LaFace Records, owned by L.A. Reid and Babyface with national distribution from Arista Records. They released the classic album Southernplaylistic and began to make a mark from a city that was often ignored by the mainstream. 

They would encounter backlash after winning the award for Best New Group at the controversial 1995 Source Awards. After facing boos during their acceptance speech, André 3000 would make the statement, “I’m tired of these closed minded folks. It’s like this, the South Got Something To Say.”

André 3000 shared with students that he was nervous before making the statement that served as the beginning of Atlanta’s dominance in hip-hop. 

“I was acting out of nervousness,” he said. “It was more out of discussing you trying to big up your city. I just felt like they didn’t know us well enough. So that saying came out of the boos. So it was the situation that sparked that saying that people quote now, which I guess is fitting.”

André also spoke about finding his true rhyming voice after the debut album. In the early ’90s, rap was very loud and bombastic and André revealed that he followed suit during his early days. But after a studio session with Rico Wade, André said he began to rap in a lower tone, almost as if it was a conversation with the listener. That rhyme flow was presented on the song “Elevators,” the group’s first single on the sophomore album, ATLiens.

He also shared how he began to explore with the playing of wind instruments, collecting them in different cities and countries as he traveled.

By delving into this new space, it reminded him of his early days in rap when he and Big Boi would just experiment with music as teens. With wind instruments, he’s doing the same by learning through experimentation. However, he spoke about how the approach of playing instruments is different from rap. He said that when rapping, artists can lean on the chorus and beat, but that same luxury isn’t present when playing wind instruments. André noted that the performances of the “New Blue Sun” tour is mostly improvised. 

When asked by a student about finding stillness, André 3000 shared that there’s “movement, even in stillness” noting that things are always moving and evolving. André’s evolution from rap legend to wind instrumentalist has been unexpected and awe-inspiring. 




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