There’s something magical about the way André 3000 begins his verse on “Int’l Players Anthem.” The moment you hear his voice you're compelled to recite the spoken word-esque verse alongside him. It’s pure poetry, modern-day Shakespearean, and delivering the verse over a sample of Willie Hutch’s angelic “I Choose You” makes for a song opening that is pure as a baby’s heart.
It’s fitting that the music video was a wedding—the song sounds like wedding vows, white gowns, and good tequila. When our former managing editor Nathan ranked all of Andre’s guest verses, “Int’l Players Anthem” was given a whopping rating of 700 stacks. When our former editor Lucas knighted “Int’l Players Anthem” his favorite hip-hop song ever, he considered Andre’s verse exceptional—a perfect description. I’ve never met anyone that didn’t like his contribution to the song.
One small detail that separates André's verse from Pimp C, Bun B, and Big Boi is that there’s are no drums or bass playing during his verse, it’s strictly the beautiful sample. I always thought it was a genius way to begin the song, but when Pimp C first heard the verse, he didn’t feel that way at all.
Jeff Sledge, one of the most renowned A&Rs of the now defunct Jive Records, recently appeared on ItsTheReal's A Waste Of Time podcast and revealed an unknown fact about the making of “Int’l Players Anthem.” We all know how Pimp was very specific about everything—the legendary story of how he almost didn’t show up for Jay’s “Big Pimpin” video is a perfect example—so it should come as no surprise that when André turned in his verse and the drums were removed, The Pimp was pissed.
"He was like, 'Fuck Andre, man.' How the fuck he goin send my shit back and take my drums out."
Originally, André's verse wasn’t walking on the cloud that is the “I Choose You” sample, but he had the foresight to know how awkward his verse might be if he tried that same delivery over something that included the aggressive drums. It being a UGK song, Pimp didn’t appreciate how Dre just decided to remove the drums from a song that didn’t belong to him. It took some convincing from Jeff that the song was actually better as a result. He believed André rapping practically a capella was a nice build up, and that the drums dropping would be explosive along with Pimp's classic verse. It was a perspective that calmed the raging Pimp and the rest is hip-hop history.
History is something that “Int’l Players Anthem” is soaked in. It’s an instant southern classic for several reasons. This was the second collaboration between UGK and Outkast, the first was "Tough Guy," from the soundtrack to the 2000 movie Shaft. The song is also one of the last times that André and Big Boi were officially together on a track. Originally, it was a collaboration between UGK and Three 6 Mafia, but Sony refused to clear the song. Instead of allowing the record to sit on the shelf, Juicy J emailed the song he produced with DJ Paul to André. After hearing André’s verse, Big Boi decided he had to be on it. Now we can add Pimp C’s outrage to André removing the drums to the story.
On the set of the “Int’l Players Anthem” music video shoot, André confessed to MTV that he was worried he wouldn’t get away with a verse that ran an entire minute before the drums came in. He knew that his approach to the song wasn’t conventional, but in that is the genius. It’s funny how his verse and Pimp C’s compliment each other; the song wouldn’t be the same without their polar opposite components.
“Int’l Players Anthem” needed both the angelic poet and the aggressive pimp. Long Live Pimp C.
By Yoh, aka Sweet James Yohnes aka @Yoh31.