You can say this for Andre 3000: he is a mercurial bastard. Long before the high minded lyricist and part-time thespian recently shocked the music world by reuniting onstage with two-fisted partner Big Boi for the long awaited return of Outkast, Mr. Benjamin has teased the duo's loyal fanbase by popping up on an dizzying array of genre-hopping productions. From artsy R&B (Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter") and eventful mainstream collaborations (Drake's "The Real Her") to thugged out visions of grandeur (Rick Ross' "Sixteen") and joyous indie pop (Capital Cities' "Farrah Fawcett Hair"), Andre has meticulously picked his spots to showcase his still praise-worthy gift of rhyme.
But there is something quite surreal about 3000's latest feature on the intriguing Future track "Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)." The anti gold-digger cut, which is featured on Ciara's significant other's upcoming album Honest, is easily the most Dungeon Family-esque number. Three Stacks opens up the track with an eyebrow raising chorus that will have some sensitive critics throwing the M-word around (misogynistic) without the hindsight of context: "I told that bitch I don't give a fuck about a Benz, bitch..." But Future and 3000 are playing the long game. "Tell that girl you about to sell them whips, you tired of 'em/And see how she react when you no longer in your BEMA/Then she found out that the Bentley wasn't really rented..." spits the Auto-Tune hook master, who drops the vocal gimmicks for his most grounded and skillful performance to date. "Can you love a thug?/It's all make believe...real fantasy I see through it easily."
And it's a good thing that Future has brought his A-game because Andre 3000 is as inspired as ever. "Affection is so convenient when balling...I guess that's why Lois can't be with Clark Kent/Fly on a nigga back while he Superman, but if I'm a wheelchair you still there?" This is a face-paced, theme-driven fuck-off that traffics in the jaded realization that groupie love is fleeting. But in typical Andre 3000 form, he manages to expand the song's parameters into a philosophical dissection on what exactly constitutes as success. "I was zipping through the city and I don't give a fuck/1994 Ford Toyota land cruising because that bitch ain't never broke down on me why would I do that to her?" he reasons. Andre even manages to make the bad girl at the center of "Benz Friendz" into a sympathetic figure ("The girl only is with him because he is foreign/Well gone angel I don't blame you don't hang your head I know it's survival for you get it like a IOU...").
This is the kind of effortless performance that will only remind fans that Outkast has bullshitted around long enough. Where's the album? --Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)