Andre Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000 has perfected the art of retreating as fast as he re-appears for a brief moment. 3000 raps in long verse for a minute to create a shift in hip-hop culture in his latest treat. No one expected 3000 to play with the rumors of Drake’s ghostwriters.
But 3000 could care less about titles and more about what is pertinent to himself. 3000 has increased his legend through carefully mapped guest verses. Two of which have appeared with Frank Ocean. In 2013, he meticulously confessed his love for “thick girls” on the “Pink Matter (Remix)”. He then faded away, working on his acting career, only showing his voice on a few guest verses here and there. Alongside Big Boi, they mastered the art of progressing as musicians with their albums together in Outkast. Once 3000 went solo, the power of 200 words or less has become a signifier of who 3000 is.
But this can only work for an artist of his stature. And that’s what Frank Ocean has learned in his very short time as a now independent artist. Overexposure is most often exhausting – look at Chance the Rapper – and reappearing every few years will mount the hype for something special. The lack of music from 3000 equals more excitement for his verses compared to the abundance of Young Thug verses.
“Solo (Reprise)” is the tenth track off of Blond, and stands alone in the vulnerable album. Where Ocean is more reserved, 3000 is cheerful and jumps into your ears from the beginning of his minute long verse. The track ends with the now famous bars directed (maybe) at Drake:
After 20 years in, I’m so naïve
I was under the impression
That everyone wrote they own verses
It’s comin’ back different and yeah that shit hurts me
I’m hummin’ and whistlin’ to those not deserving
I’ve stumbled and lived every word
Was I working just way too hard?
One can argue that even Drake does not have the knowhow to deliver a verse like 3000 if given a year or two to craft it. 3000 does not deliver enough music to be proclaimed the best artist (Kanye) or lyricist (Kendrick) in the rap game. But when he delivers a verse for us to listen to, he raps circles around himself. 3000 exists in his own world, one with discipline and without regard for “we need new music from you Andre!” Most artists would crack under the constant need for their music from fans and critics. And for that they release subpar music.
3000 keeps a low profile, leaving people to forget he exists. Mouths were left open when they heard 3000’s voice come in on “Solo (Reprise)”. That is the power he has achieved as an artist that is very frustrating and rewarding all in the same. He surprises us with every new verse. With a potential diss under his belt, there isn’t much for him to conquer in his won world.