Rolling Out

What André 3000 means to Black Atlanta creatives

RobOlu and Fathereg open up

In 1995, a young André 3000 went on stage at the Source Awards and changed the landscape of hip-hop forever. At the time of the show, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry in music was at an all-time high as it centered on the genre’s two biggest stars, The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac. Outkast won the award for best rap group at the show and as the Atlanta duo of André 3000 and Big Boi came on stage and were booed by the New York crowd, the pair responded to the challenge and nothing was ever the same.

“I’m tired of the close-minded folks,” André 3000 said. “It’s like we’ve got a demo tape and no one wants to hear it, but it’s like this, though, the south got something to say, and that’s all I’ve got to say.”

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Over the past 20 years, the majority of mainstream rap stars have come through Atlanta. After André 3000 eventually became a music superstar and one of the greatest rappers ever, he remains proud of his hometown.

“We saw New York get hot, we saw the West Coast get hot,” André 3000 said on stage at the 2024 Atlanta Jazz Festival on May 27 which also marked his 49th birthday. “One thing Atlanta was able to do was be around for creativity. You’ve got Dungeon Family, you’ve got OutKast, Goodie Mob, Big Rube, and a lot of y’all don’t know it, but Kanye West is from Atlanta, also. Yeah, look it up.

“A lot of interesting people, things and freedom[s] have come out of Atlanta, Georgia. I hope y’all feel as great as I feel about this city.”

As the case has been for the past three decades, there’s currently another surge of emerging Atlanta talent in the hip-hop underground scene. Artists like Karrahbooo, Anycia, Tony Shhnow, Baby Kia, 404 Chew, Lil Tony Official, Vayda, Spook, Dono, Woo Da Savage, Tiva Fox, SwaVay, Daylan Gideon, Destroy Lonely and Ken Carson are knocking on the door of the mainstream and are likely to be the next wave of artists to add to the legacy left by the likes of T.I., Gucci Mane, Future, Ludacris, Jeezy, Bankroll Fresh, 21 Savage, Playboi Carti, Migos, Lil Yachty, Young Thug, Latto, Lil Baby and Gunna.

At the Atlanta Jazz Festival, artists RobOlu and Fathereg spoke to rolling out about how André 3000 has influenced their creative process.

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What is it like to watch one of the greatest rappers ever, evolve into an artist who’s performing at the Jazz Festival?

RobOlu: N— the GOAT. N— brought more than the city out. N—, there’s like 150-200,000 people out here, and he playing the flute. He’s not even rapping.

Fathereg: Strictly the flute. How many people just from strictly playing the flute?

RobOlu: He’s impacting and influencing our vibrations by playing the flute. He’s doing more than what people would expect him to do. I feel like he’s transcending his celebrity onto another plane. I f— with it.

What do you think this says to Black creatives about their limits?

Fathereg: There’s no limits. That’s the point. How do you go from rapping to playing the flute, and people still give you that same amount of respect?

RobOlu: That’s the definition of transcendent. Not a monolith.

How has André influenced your art?

RobOlu: Push the limits. Push the barriers, gotd—.

Just because I’m this or that, and people will recognize or know me as this doesn’t mean I can’t break out of that margin and write outside the lines. I could write my “Y” three lines down, four lines down. I can take up the whole page with one “Y.” André did that.

Fathereg: He really helped me find a bunch of talent that could be anywhere. André’s an inspiration, man.

RobOlu: The GOAT.

Fathereg: Videos, oh my gosh. I’m going to be here all day.

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