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."
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.