Andre 3000 On Dropping Out of High School, Anxiety & Mother’s Drug Revelation
In a rare interview, Andre 3000 opens up about suffering from social anxiety, how people have catered to him since Outkast and not settling down. See the excerpts below.
On feeling like he was in a personal and creative hole:
I was in all three holes. I was in a creative hole, a personal hole, and I was still not dealing with my mom’s and my father’s deaths. And really, I don’t know if I have still. You know: Just push that away. The problem with being successful is you can do whatever you do times ten. And no one to stop you. You can easily go down the wrong path and you get into that place. And the thing that brings you out is other people.
On people catering to him since his days in Outkast, not paying a bill since he was 17 & how some view his son:
It’s strange when, your whole life, everyone has treated you different from everybody else. They say that if you’re an entertainer, whatever time you took off, you stay that age. I was 17. I wonder how my son feels. He was born into it, ’cause his parents are Erykah [Badu] and me. Even when people heard that we was having a kid, they was like, Oh, this kid is gonna be——a genie! Before he even got here. I really hate it for him. You gotta understand, I’ve only written one check in my life. When I was 17, they still had checkbooks, and my mom taught me how to write a check and do my balance. So I had one check on my balance, and then OutKast took off. I have not paid a bill since. People ask, What does it feel like? As humans, we want attention. We want to be validated. At the same time, it’s strange attention, and a lot of it. If you have an excess of anything, it becomes strange.
Suffering from anxiety when he’s around people:
I was diagnosed with this social thing. I didn’t notice it until I became an entertainer. I don’t know if it’s the shock of all kind of people coming up to you, or the expectations, but I got to this place where it was hard for me to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous.
Yeah, and it started to bleed over into my normal life. I’d just meet new people and I would freak out or have to leave. Before that album, I moved to California. It started a little bit before then, and I just chucked it off as Aw, yeah, man, I just need to take a break. And I started to notice it getting worse and worse. Because the more you run from it, the worse it gets. You don’t want to explain it, because you don’t want to be a weak link around your friends. I never told my crew for a long time, so I just started getting to myself. Spending more time with myself and stopped touring. And it felt great for me to do that, because it’s like, Phew, I don’t like that life, I don’t like that confrontation.
Seeing his father not settle down and how he does the same thing in relationships:
Growing up, I would always see these great women, like, Oh, man, she’s cool. Or, She’s really cool—she has her stuff together, and they have a great chemistry. But for some reason, he [his father] kept not making it happen, and that’s always happened with me. I know my son looks at me like, Yeah, man, she was cool. Or, Oh, man, she’s, like, great, beautiful. And it’s always me not going to the next step. So I know my kid sees it the same way.
His mother revealing she smoked crack when he was a child:
Yeah, when I was around 35, my mom pulled me to the side in the kitchen. Out of nowhere, she was like, “You know, when you were 5, I used to go and do crack.” She was like, “It was new during that time. I was dating this drug-dealer guy, and he sold cocaine, and we would do cocaine, and that was like a normal thing.” And she said, “Me and that guy broke up, and I had to find something to get high, and there was this new thing called crack.” So she tried it, and there it was. And the person that she ended up marrying was the guy that used to keep me when she would go do crack.
If she told him because it had been gnawing at her:
Yeah, but I think it was more that I triggered it, because at that time, I was doing drugs. I wasn’t doing hard drugs—she saw me smoking [weed] all the time, and I think she saw me going down a path. I think she was trying to tell me the story to help me. She said, “You know, I left this dude, and I had to get my own apartment at that point, and I was still smoking crack, and when I moved into this apartment, I guess the people that lived there before left a tennis racket in the corner.” So at the time, she was like, “I’m gonna take tennis lessons.” Two years later she looked up and she hadn’t taken one, ’cause she was doing drugs. The tennis racket was the thing that made her know “I missed all that time.”
People still thinking of him as sober and vegan:
Yeah, my life has changed a lot. I was a vegan/vegetarian for like 14, 15 years. After our first album, we were going hard, out on the road, doing drugs, partaking in every woman, and I started to see myself deteriorate. I would look in the mirror and be like, “You look like shit.” So I got to a point where I said, I gotta stop. So I went that way and tried it. What’s funny is this idea that people have of me as being straight-edge. My homie Cee-Lo, from Goodie Mob, he has this joke. He’s like, “Man, I don’t know why these women think we’re sitting cross-legged with incense like some Buddhists, praying with our hands. I mean, we out here fucking these bitches.” [laughs] I mean, I hate to say it like this, but Martin Luther King, he was out there, you know what I mean? Just because you have a natural urge and you follow it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t want the best for people and the best for yourself. And now, to be honest, when I write about sex, it’s more like: I’m on a time clock. I’m getting older, so you want to get it all in.
Admiring Big Boi and dropping out of high school:
Big Boi is smart as fuck. We went to the same high school. I dropped out in 11th grade. Big Boi graduated with honors. When you watch early OutKast videos, Big Boi’s the leader. He always had the confidence, where I was kind of like the shy one. Big Boi can rap better than me—I always said that. If somebody said, “Pick who you want from OutKast to go to battle with you,” it wouldn’t be me. ’Cause like, what I’ma do? Say some mind shit? You can’t have thoughts in a battle—nobody gives a shit about that.