André 3000 doesn't have a true solo album to his name—no, The Love Below doesn't count—but that hasn't stopped legions of hip-hop fans from calling the OutKast alum one of, if not the greatest rappers of all-time. If you were to ask André himself, though, he'd humbly tell you that he doesn't even belong in the conversation.
In a new interview with GQ, the 42-year-old Atlanta native admits that not only is his OutKast partner-in-rhyme Big Boi better at rapping but that he has never considered himself a great rapper.
"It’s hard drives of me just in the house alone playing horrible guitar. Me playing piano. Me playing a little sax. I was trying to find out: What can I be excited about? Because I never was, to me, a great producer or a great writer or a great rapper," André said. "I always felt that I was less than everybody else, so I fought harder. My only gauge to know when something was good was how I felt it. Like, Oh, man, this is dope. Or, this is new."
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Anyone can string together rhymes but what has always separated the imitators from the icons is an undeniable, impenetrable belief in self. André could just be having a moment—and to be honest, the tone of the entire interview is quite somber—but if he's always felt this way, which goes against the confident, braggadocious nature of hip-hop's elite, this would provide a reasonable explanation as to why he's never released a solo album like Big or shown much interest in releasing a new OutKast album.
Later in the interview, Dre admits that, despite loathing the studio, he has returned as a result of being inspired by newer, younger artists, but that he doesn't believe it's enough to jumpstart his dead battery.
"I’ve been working on producing a few artists. A couple projects," he said, "But here’s the crazy thing: I don’t have the pulse anymore. Rhythms change every generation. The intensity and the drums change. And I’m not on the pulse. I can’t pretend. It’s kinda like watching your uncle dance. So the only thing I can do is this kind of novelty, off thing for them."
Remember that new 3000 album that seemed imminent last fall? Don't count on it.