Details of Andre 3000’s long awaited solo debut are shrouded in secrecy. Very few people have heard any of the tracks. But Rico, who’s producing part of the album along with Organized Noize, pulls out his white MacBook and plays a track called “Dandelion.” The beat has a warrior feel to it, and the drums are heavy. In the song, 3000 does what pleases him most: subliminally going over many listeners’ heads. Using droll puns, he compares himself to a “dandelion,” then spits, “hear me roar.” On the chorus, he takes the double entendres a step further: “I raps like a mummy.”
“He done got back inspired,” Swift says excitedly of Dre, who sometimes calls him in the middle of the night to rhyme his latest lyrics. “I heard some new verses,” Swift says, “and he goddamn killing it!”
Big says that OutKast will definitely drop another album, but Dre’s vision for the future isn’t so clear. “I’m not sure how it’s going to end up,” he says. “I’m kind of at this point where…” his sentence trails off into a sigh. “I’m always at this point where, ‘How long will I want to do it?’ To be honest, if it wasn’t for Big Boi, OutKast probably wouldn’t be around.”
But Swift says they must release another OutKast record. “Fuck what I say—the contract say they got to deliver another album,” he says. “It ain’t over!”
Back in Atlanta, Rico Wade hops out of a black Chevy Suburban and walks into a Publix supermarket. After he was caught speeding Rico’s license was suspended, so he’s riding shotgun. His burly homeboy waits in the parking lot while Rico runs in to cop $50 worth of crab legs.
Rico wears a red and black letterman jacket and jeans so baggy he has to manually hold them up. Still, he commands the attention of shoppers who give curious “Is that Rico Wade?” stares as he strolls around with armfuls of bagged lettuce and a pocketful of “producer money.” It’s one day before his 37th birthday. A decade ago, he’d be throwing a party of the century, but times have changed. “I’m going to be doing the same thing tomorrow that I’m doing right now,” he says.
The past few years have left Rico with little to celebrate. The soundtrack work Organized Noize was getting—they have crafted music for films starting with 1992’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, 1993’s CB4, 1995’s New Jersey Drive, followed by1996’s Set it Off and Fled, 1997’s Home Alone Christmas, Hoodlum, and Money Talks, 1998’s Bulworth, 1999’s The Wood, The Mod Squad, and the animated series The P.J.’s, the 2000 remake of Shaft, 2001’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, 2004’s Barbershop 2: Back in Business—wasn’t enough to make ends meet and in 2004, Rico filed for bankruptcy. Though Organized Noize continued to produce movie soundtracks from 2005’s Hitch on through 2006’s Snakes On A Plane, the worst was yet to come.