Andre 3000 is one of the most intriguing characters in hip-hop, and he has a pivotal duo to thank for making him believe that rap was something that he could apply his talents to. It would offer him the chance to be an icon.
The Outkast co-founder, real name Andre Benjamin, grew up in Atlanta and eventually became the lynchpin of the thriving scene in the Southern rap capital. While he was in high school, Andre’s paths crossed with Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton, and as teenagers, they’d form Outkast in 1992, and together they’ve left a mark on music that can still be heard today.
After leaving school, the duo turned their full attention to the group, and they were soon snapped up by local label La Face, who released their debut record in 1994. However, only a few years before that meeting with Patton, Benjamin gravitated towards rap music after Eric B & Rakim changed his mind on the genre and made him realise that it was for him.
Their 1987 debut album, Paid In Full, was a revolutionary release in the genre’s history and helped inspire a generation. Although commercially, the record wasn’t initially a success, it set down a precedent and helped get the wheels turning on the golden age of hip-hop.
Suddenly, the landscape became more accessible following the emergence of Eric B & Rakim, and the duo opened Andre’s eyes to a whole new illuminating world.
“I started rapping and rhyming in school talent shows in Atlanta when I was 12 or 13, and although I always liked rap’s energy it wasn’t until I heard Rakim that I realised what you could actually do it with it,” the Outkast man told The Guardian about the album.
Benjamin continued, “He was the coolest, the calmest, and he showed that rap could be fluid, rather than just be a rhythmic attack. But I thought I would be drawing and painting for a living at that time. It wasn’t until about four years later when I met Antwan [‘Big Boi’ Patton, other half of OutKast] in high school that I took the whole thing seriously.”
Listen to the album which inspired Andre Benjamin to become Andre 3000 below.