André 3000 Headlines Atlanta Jazz Festival On His Birthday, Pays Homage To Rico Wade

André 3000 celebrated his 49th birthday with a performance at the 2024 Atlanta Jazz Festival. The Atlanta native strayed away from the rap lyrics that brought him prominence as a member of OutKast. Instead, André reintroduced himself as a flutist, accompanied by a crew of musicians for his “New Blue Sun” era. 

Held at Piedmont Park, the 2024 Atlanta Jazz Festival provided the space for André to perform before the largest crowd since releasing the “New Blue Sun” album. 

Dressed in overalls, an army fatigue long-sleeve shirt, a red beanie, and black Air Jordan 3 sneakers, André 3000 entered the festival stage behind five large mirrors. He eventually emerged to the forefront and began playing a flute as his band followed with cohesive sounds. 

Void of an actual setlist, André 3000 and his band mostly improvised throughout the show, vibing with each other while taking audience members on a hypnotic journey. 

André took a moment to pay homage to Rico Wade, the founder of Dungeon Family/Organized Noize who passed in April. During his set, André shared how Wade pushed him to be great. 

“We did a residency in Atlanta, six shows, and Rico Wade showed up,” André said. “One thing y’all may not know about Rico is that he raised me. Every time I would say a rap to Rico, he would walk off and say, ‘that ain’t good enough.’ For a moment, I want you all to make noise for King Rico Wade.”

In 1991, Rico Wade was holding a job as a manager at Lamonte’s Beauty Supply store in East Point, Georgia when he met André and Antwan Patton in a parking lot. Andre and Antwan were eager to prove themselves to Wade. So when Cameron “Big Gipp” Gipp played A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario” on his car’s stereo, the teens began rapping with the vigor of well-established emcees. For 10 minutes straight, André and Antwan would rap, thoroughly impressing Wade. 

Wade would invite André and Antwan to the Dungeon, a makeshift studio located in the basement of his mother’s home in the Lakewood community. It was the place where history would be made and OutKast was born. 

While on stage at the Atlanta Jazz Fest, André also shared insight on how the Dungeon Family sparked his creativity from rapping to playing the flute. 

“The Dungeon was the grounds for a lot of things,” André said. “Our whole thing was to keep pushing, keep stretching out. I know you all wonder how I went from rapping to playing flute. For me, it’s a natural progression. Growing up, I thought I was going to be a visual artist until I started rapping. It’s all coming from the same source. It’s just creative and you never know how it’s going to come.”

André wrapped his performance with a furious medley of tribal sounds and improvised jazz, proving that artistic expression can be limitless. 

Created in 1978 by Mayor Maynard Jackson’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the Atlanta Jazz Festival has become a staple of Memorial Day Weekend in Atlanta. 

This year, over 150,000 attendees witnessed performances by Something Else!, Olatuja, and Lizz Wright over the three-day weekend.  

 

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