In his first interview since the tour started, the reclusive André spoke to The New York Times about his absence from music, battling depression, and returning to the stage.
André, who is producing a song for Aretha Franklin’s upcoming album, addressed the poor reviews from opening night at Coachella. “They actually got André Benjamin the first night [at Coachella], and I clearly saw they don’t want André Benjamin,” he said. “He loves what he’s done, but I hate cages, and sometimes nostalgia is a cage.”
He was also optimistic about releasing a new solo album. While there is no timeline, he said that the tour has reignited his interest in music.
Plus, he opened up about being a father to his 16-year-old son Seven, the advice that Prince gave him, and his role as Jimi Hendrix in Jimi: All Is by My Side, which opens on September 26.
On growing old in hip-hop: “I remember, at like 25, saying, ‘I don’t want to be a 40-year-old rapper.’ I’m 39 now, and I’m still standing by that. I’m such a fan that I don’t want to infiltrate it with old blood.”
On his recent guest verses: “I struggle with the verses. I don’t sit around and write raps, I just don’t. Now the only time I’m really inspired to write raps is if an artist that I enjoy invites me to their party. So if Future calls and says, ‘Hey man, I want you to do this,’ I don’t want to let Future down. I don’t want to let Lil Wayne or Drake down, because I love them.”
On his decision to tour: “Honestly, I never planned to go onstage again in that way. If I feel like I’m getting to a place where it’s mimicking or a caricature, I just want to move on. But I felt like: Let me do it now ’cause these kids [in the audience], it feels good to know that they’re happy. I really don’t actually get anything from performing. … I feel good in being able to look at Big Boi and say, ‘Hey, man, we did it.’ Big Boi’s got these great records on his own, but this means something else for him.”
On his apology to Big Boi on T.I.’s “Sorry”: “We’ve left millions and millions of dollars on the table. We didn’t even tour for our biggest album [Speakerboxxx/The Love Below]. I just wanted to say I know how hard it must be.”
On his first show at Coachella: “I think people could see it at Coachella, the very first show. It was foreign. My head wasn’t there. I kind of fluffed through rehearsals. A few hours before the Coachella show, I get a message that Prince and Paul McCartney are going to be there. My spirit is not right, and idols are standing side-stage, so as the show started, I’m bummed. This is horrible. In my mind I was already gone to my hotel room halfway through.”
On Prince’s advice: “He said: ‘When you come back, people want to be wowed. And what’s the best way to wow people? Just give them the hits.’ I’m explaining to him that I really didn’t want to do it. He said: ‘I’ve been there. I’ve tried to do other things. After you give them the hits, then you can do whatever.’”
On new music: “I’d love to put out an album. I’m just going to call it honest. I know this may sound morbid, but I was like, if I were to die today, I have all these half-songs on my hard drive, and I don’t want that.”
Read the full interview at NYTimes.com.