Instant gratification has taken over the music industry. Streaming service provides us with almost unlimited access to thousands of discographies. And when new music releases, we have access to it instantly and are not mindful of the process it takes to roll out an album or produce a single.
With the speed of technology at hand, we oft apply similar expectations to the creatives providing content to these platforms. Where’s the new Playboy Carti album we ask? When is the new season of Insecure dropping? As the creators, musicians, actors, etc. we heavily consume take a step back from their work or even change completely; it sometimes leaves fans with their noses turned up, begging for something new.
Andre 3000 hasn’t released solo music since 2018; before this, his most recent work consisted of features on the tracks of fellow artists like Travis Scott and Frank Ocean.
Why hasn’t he released new music in the past two years? The man who was one half of the iconic Southern duo Outkast doesn’t have the utmost confidence he explained In a candid conversation with legendary producer Rick Rubin on the Broken Record podcast.
“My focus is not there. My confidence is not there. I tinker a lot. I’ll just go to a piano, and I’ll set my iPhone down and just record what I’m doing, moving my fingers and whatever happens, but I haven’t been motivated to do a serious project,” said 3000.
His struggle is common for creatives across industries, think writer’s block, and is something fans don’t take into account when begging for new music.
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This photo is from the second time I got to shoot @andre3000 with @rickrubin and it’s quite possibly my favorite image I’ve ever captured. My blog and podcast return tomorrow after a year-and-a-half hiatus just to tell the story behind this photo and the events that lead up to it. For now, be sure to listen to the latest episode of @thebrokenrecordpod to hear these two legends discuss things you might be surprised to find relatable, particularly if you’re a creative. Thanks for all the recent love and shoutout all the major platforms sharing my photos. 🙏🙌 . .. #portraitkillers
In other bits, he speaks of fame hindering his confidence and a myriad of other behind the scenes factors that have contributed to his hiatus. The interview also reveals that 3000 has been slowly experimenting with instrumentation-based records as opposed to his usual verses packed with deep but witty storytelling.
“Maybe my history is kinda handicapping, in a way, so I’m just trying to find out what makes me feel the best right now,” he said.
“And what makes me feel the best is when I just do these random instrumental things. They make me feel the most rebellious . . . I don’t like to go with the flow, really. I don’t know why but I just feel best when I don’t, so I have to honor that.”
3000s lastest releases in 2018, “Me&My (To Bury Your Parents)” and a 17-minute instrumental track, “Look Ma No Hands,” which featured Benjamin on bass clarinet and James Blake on piano, honored his affinity for instrumentation. Despite this, it seems as if he’s describing a pressure for his music to sound like it did when he was in Outkast or like his highly sought after guest appearances.
One of the main characteristics of Outkast and Andre as a solo artist is the ability to be different and to stand out. After the release of Aquemini, S. H. Fernando Jr. of Rolling Stone wrote: “OutKast prove that you don’t have to sell out to sell records.” When artists do what they want musically, and not what is expected of them it generally produces their best and most profound work. We have a terrible habit of pigeonholing artists and preventing them from experimenting with their music, and outside of it—Andre 3000 is just one example.
Rihanna’s fan base, generally called “the navy,” is awaiting her ninth studio album, rumored to be influenced by her Barbadian roots; but they’ve been nowhere near patient. Although most of their banter is in good fun, calling her the “Avon lady” because of her Fenty Beauty makeup line, there is an entitled undertone to comments and jokes calling for the new album. The 31-year old singer, signed with Def Jam records at age 16 and in 2005, released her first album Music of the Sun. With over 15 years in the music industry, fans and critics alike are not respecting her growth outside her musical endeavors.
Between her first and seventh album, Rihanna never went for more than two years without releasing a project. Her continued interest in fashion and widely popular makeup line don’t necessarily mean that the music has come to an end but are a healthy break from a young-adult life populated with an attachment to the industry and a pressure to create “new” and “better” music.
In a late 2019 interview with Vogue, Rih explains how music weaves through her fashion and beauty endeavors and connects her to fans: “Music is, like, speaking in code to the world, where they get it. It’s the weird language that connects me to them. Me the designer, me the woman who creates makeup and lingerie—it all started with music. It was my first pen pal–ship to the world. To cut that off is to cut my communication off. All of these other things flourish on top of that foundation.”
It’s clear that the pop princess still has a love for music but the success of her fashion line, FENTY, and Fenty Beauty; make it clear that the artist has skyrocketed beyond that singular title to a multifaceted businesswoman. In an interview with T Magazine, she speaks of how her interest in fashion evolved, currently peaking with the historical marker of being the first black woman to head a luxury brand for LVMH.
“I’ve been slowly evolving throughout the fashion world. First wearing it, buying it, being recognized for my style and then collaborating with brands. I never just wanted to put my name on something and sell my license. I’m very hands-on, so I wanted to take it slowly and gain respect as a designer.”Her dedication to fashion, which extends to her other endeavors, should be appreciated in the present moment and not upstaged by the world’s desire to hear her new music.
Whenever Andre 3000 decides to release new music—instrumental or not—we should critique it because of its quality, not based on the previous verses or songs he’s released that may be of a completely different vein. And this same principle should apply when waiting for Rihanna’s next album. We can have expectations for the artists but we can’t let our expectations trump her desire to create what she wants, whether its music, fashion, or makeup.
Artists are people, just like us, which changing dreams and desires as well as; fears and bouts of insecurity. Remember this; the next time your favorite releases new music or even better, completely diverges from the industry.