Punters who enjoyed Outkast‘s dynamic, career-spanning performance at Splendour In The Grass last month have Prince to thank. According to a new, rare interview with member Andre “3000” Benjamin, after a lukewarm start to the duo’s reunion tour, the rock legend’s advice helped motivate the rapper.
“I kind of fluffed through rehearsals,” Benjamin recently told The New York Times. A few hours before the Coachella show, I get a message that Prince and Paul McCartney are going to be there. My spirit is not right, and idols are standing side-stage, so as the show started, I’m bummed. This is horrible.”
“In my mind I was already gone to my hotel room halfway through,” the rapper and actor added. “So Prince called a couple days after. It was my first time actually talking to Prince. He said: ‘When you come back, people want to be wowed. And what’s the best way to wow people? Just give them the hits.'”
After Benjamin protested, saying he didn’t simply want to work through the Southern hip-hop icons’ best-known songs, Prince explained that he’d been in the same situation himself and found that giving an audience the hits first frees an artist to go on and do whatever he or she wants. “He broke it down like this: ‘You’re a grown man. You’re either going to do it or you’re not,'” Benjamin told the Times.
According to Benjamin, he “never planned to go onstage again in that way” with Outkast before the recent tour. “If I feel like I’m getting to a place where it’s mimicking or a caricature, I just want to move on,” he said. “But I felt like: Let me do it now ’cause these kids [in the audience], it feels good to know that they’re happy.” However, he insisted, “I really don’t actually get anything from performing.”
Benjamin previously apologised to his Outkast brother-in-arms, Big Boi, on a verse in T.I.‘s 2012 single Sorry, expressing contrition for turning down multiple lucrative offers to reunite before this year’s tour. “We’ve left millions and millions of dollars on the table,” Benjamin told The New York Times.
“We didn’t even tour for our biggest album [Speakerboxxx/The Love Below]. I just wanted to say I know how hard it must be,” he explained. “I feel good in being able to look at Big Boi [now] and say, ‘Hey, man, we did it.’ Big Boi’s got these great records on his own, but this means something else for him.”
Benjamin has expressed a desire to release a new record, saying, “I know this may sound morbid, but I was like, if I were to die today, I have all these half-songs on my hard drive, and I don’t want that.” Though for now his energies are focused on the upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side.
“[Playing] Hendrix kind of saved me,” he told the Times. “I was in a not-so-great space, just in a dark place every day. I needed something to focus on to get me out of my depression and rut…. I knew if I got on a train with a lot of different people, then I couldn’t let them down.” See the film’s official trailer below.
Gallery: Outkast – Splendour In The Grass 2014, Byron Bay 25/07/14
Photos by Ashley Mar
Watch: Jimi Hendrix: All Is By My Side Trailer