The music icon talks everything from Sonny Rollins to ‘Dead Poets Society’ to Tyler, The Creator come the an imaginative life

Where us were ~ above July 3, 2007, the work the soundtrack come André Benjamin’s animated collection Class the 3000 to be released: It had been a year since the premiere of Outkast’s movie and also soundtrack Idlewild. Three years since the duo winner the Album the the Year Grammy for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.

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Yet the musical futures of three Stacks and huge Boi to be up in the air. André 3000, especially, was maintaining mum about any future projects however was dropping unannounced guest verses — “International Player’s Anthem (I pick You)” and also “Walk that Out” amongst them — and stealing the present each time. The human being was clamoring for much more output indigenous André, also dreaming the a solo album (fans are still begging for that album in 2017). Yet what plenty of don’t understand is that 3000 actually released a full-length album — simply not what anyone to be expecting.

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Class the 3000 is the soundtrack come Andre 3000’s short-lived but brilliant Cartoon Network series. In it, André plays a music teacher that exposes his class to adventures and also a brand-new appreciation because that their corresponding instruments. The present is prefer if you placed The Magic institution Bus in a deep fryer and also put a side of yams alongside it. He developed the entire album, noted vocals and, yes, also rapped. A te later, the album is still as innovative and replayable together it was in 2007.

“It actually happened right after ~ Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” said Benjamin via mobile. “Adult swim was acquiring aggressive with television and for brand-new content. Mike Lazzo heard The Love Below and also said, ‘Man, ns gotta reach out to that guy and make The Love below into some kind of animated thing.’ The display was originally claimed to it is in an Adult swim show. It was going to be an ext edgy. But I feel The Love listed below was its very own entity. I wanted to produce something new.”

“You don’t need to rest on what you’ve excellent in the past. That beautiful.”

André and Lazzo were at a loss as to what their new concept need to be around until they took a trip about Atlanta. “André began talking around his youth,” stated Lazzo, currently a an elderly executive vice chairman at Cartoon Network. Andre take it Lazzo come his neighborhood in southwest Atlanta — and to Sutton middle School on the various other side of town, in the well-off Buckhead area. “It was two fully different worlds. His mommy insisted he acquire a good education, so she got his transport arranged. As I’m hearne to every this ns thinking, ‘André, this is the present I want to see.’ ”


Andre “3000” Benjamin throughout Andre “3000” Benjamin and also Cartoon Network present “Class of 3000” Premiere occasion at The Fox theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, joined States.

Rick Diamond/WireImage

As the principle for course of 3000 began to take shape, loosely based upon Benjamin’s childhood at a performing arts school, it became obvious that the present would be much better off aligned toward youngsters than on the Adult swim imprint. André 3000 had only one demand: The show had to be about Atlanta. There’s never been a cartoon set in Atlanta, and setting Class the 3000 in the city to be a method to disclose its society to a more comprehensive audience.

“I understand these kids. I grew up with these kids. Mine childhood was put in those characters. I was Lil D. I grew up in Bankhead, and also I went to school in Buckhead. For this reason I understand that world. I had actually to drive the bus v the projects and through these wealthy a– houses. I was the kid; i knew both political parties of it.” André 3000 speak me every one of this end the phone call while i’m sitting in prior of the painting of Outkast in my male cave.

Wait, allow me back up.

Any parent can relate to the slim eye-gouging boredom of driving your young youngsters around and also trying to uncover music the won’t warp their brains and lead them come a life that crime and also sexuallytransfer infections. Because that the many part, the kid-friendly music options obtainable are somewhere between Radio Disney, gospel music, about three opportunity the Rapper songs and an countless library of children’s movie soundtracks.

I remember purchase the class of 3000 soundtrack once it come out in 2007. It was out of a fevered desire to hear any kind of amount of new Outkast music, and I figured it’d be good for my kids to listen to together well. Listening for the an initial time in years reminded me the the funkadelic, eccentric fantasy human being André created with the soundtrack by immersing the listener in a jazz- and drum kit-laced fusion of unforgettable melodies and whimsical comedy. The songs are accessible to kids yet deeply engaging sufficient for adults.

“That wasn’t supposed to it is in my voice on that song. The was claimed to be Lil D’s voice on the song.” — André 3000

The much more we listened, the an ext I looked right into the show. After two seasons, it had disappeared. There’s no way to get a physical copy of any season, and the soundtrack is obtainable from only the very first season. I sent feelers out, and also direct messages because that answers. Then on a Sunday morning I got an email. Indigenous André 3000. Among the artists who defined my childhood and Southern upbringing, who offered voice to mine lifestyle and also represented me whenever he spoke. Not only was the interested in talking about the soundtrack, he sounded downright excited come talk about a passion task that has actually been overlooked by therefore many. Because that someone who revered for his brilliance and also past works, the emotion of one unheralded project has to be unfamiliar come him. Especially one for this reason masterfully constructed.

“I watched Peanuts cultivation up,” said 3000, “and the music was always strong. Vince Guaraldi, a great jazz artist, was doing all the music for Peanuts. And also at the time — I recognize it’s a sensitive subject currently — however Fat Albert and the Cosby children had music involved. So ns was really trying to find a vehicle to carry out music. I assumed it’d be dope for children to hear something various than what castle hear every day. I wanted to disclose them to various sounds, and also instruments they can not it is in hearing … on the radio.”

He stated that, coming turn off The Love Below, the was already producing. “I decision to create whole songs for class of 3000. The premise is every show would feature a tune that had actually something to perform with the story.”

The actual record of the songs because that the course of 3000 soundtrack provided a difficulty somewhat international to André 3000 in ~ the time: deadlines. “It to be … a discovering process,” the said. “I had actually to have those songs prepared for every episode since they had actually to animate roughly those songs. I’ve always been a leisurely music producer, so that was sort of pressured.” One rushed moment brought about a snafu and the many unforgettable tune on the album.

“We want Your Soul” is every frantic drums, a haunting horn and also devilish laughter. And also most importantly: the eight monstrous bars from André 3000. The problem is, those bars weren’t an alleged to be there. At the very least not together rapped by André himself. The recording procedure for the album to be simple. André would certainly lay referral tracks — he’d speak in the voices the the kid characters from the show and also send the track over to Cartoon Network, and also they’d gain the youngsters to speak the lines over the tracks. However that didn’t occur for “We desire Your Soul.”

“There was a failure made due to the fact that we to be rushing to gain that song out,” Benjamin recalled. “That was an alleged to be Lil D’s voice on the song.” Instead, it’s a fully rapped André 3000 song hidden in an obscure, decade-old album. A treasure trove of Outkastian excellence.

Overall, the procedure of trying to document as a team of kids was another difficulty for 3000, especially as he to be fresh off a sexually fee album of lovemaking and also songs such together “Spread.”

“I’d have to change my voice come act favor a kid,” Benjamin said. “Had to think favor a kid, and also that to be the hardest finding out curve musically. Ns knew I want to introduce children to particular instruments and keep it upbeat. But it to be a challenge to bring my inner boy out.”

It’s a fully rapped André 3000 song hidden in an obscure, decade-old album. A treasure trove the Outkastian excellence.

He discovered his an inspiration in the form of a movie and a real-life jazz inspiration. “One that my favorite movies is Dead Poets Society, and I felt prefer doing that v kids. I additionally thought it’d be an excellent to have this teacher teach kids in an unorthodox way, so i stepped in as the teacher, sunny Bridges. Human being don’t understand that the surname is a nod to saxophone player Sonny Rollins. There to be a legend the he stopped playing music live in ~ a specific point and also he’d simply play his horn under a bridge. For this reason that’s exactly how the name sunny Bridges came together.”

And for a entirety generation of kids, André 3000 will be known as sunny Bridges first and rap mountain Rushmorian music luminary second. At least, that’s just how my boy will an initial learn around Andre Benjamin.

“That is the coolest thing around the show. I’ve had actually a blessed career. I’ve had the Isley Brothers’ career. They came up from the ’50s and also survived v the ’90s. Youngsters know castle from different eras. Some youngsters know at an early stage Outkast. Some kids know ‘Hey Ya,’ singing. And some kids know course of 3000. So when I hear a son who to know nothing about rapping, who knows nothing around The source Awards but who knows me native the show, it just shows you that you don’t need to stop. You don’t need to rest on what you’ve excellent in the past. It’s beautiful.


Andre 3000 performs on phase at Lakewood Amphitheatre ~ above September 10, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Paul R. Giunta/FilmMagic

“When I first talked to Tyler, The Creator, among the first things he said was, ‘Man, those songs like the crayon song and also the peanut song … us were kids!’ ns forget these guys that are superstars currently were kids listening come the songs. It’s like, ‘Wow, those kids actually payment attention.’ They acquired it.”

Unfortunately, course of 3000 now greatly only stays in the memory of people who saw the present when it aired in 2007. The present is only obtainable for purchase on iTunes, and also of food there space random clips top top YouTube. Course of 3000 just came in ~ a time once Cartoon Network to be transitioning native landmark kid-friendly shows such as Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and also The Powerpuff girl to that is Adult swimming imprint. Course of 3000 to be the last show that Lazzo greenlit prior to heading end to Adult swim to be a senior executive evil president.

“It was a victim of the transition,” stated Lazzo. “Had I stayed at Cartoon Network, i would have actually been superfocused on class of 3000. It was some of the ideal creativity I had seen.”