Andre Benjamin released music Sunday — but before you get ready to shake it like a Polaroid picture, be aware the songs, both about his late mom, are more jazz than hip-hop and feature the OutKast rapper on bass clarinet.
That’s right. Andre 3000, who has said in the past he was dismayed with the direction of hip-hop, raps on neither track. On one, he doesn’t even sing.
The “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” rapper introduced the music with six posts to Instagram. The first was a photo of Benjamin as a child with his late mother. He is wearing a white graduation tam, red gown and the same grin as his mother, who is leaning in, holding an instant camera.
The caption reads, “I love you mom.”
The 17-minute “Look Ma No Hands” is a purely instrumental offering in which English musician James Blake plays the keys, while 3 Stacks sleepily toots his clarinet in what feels like a series of improv jazz riffs.
Blake, who won the 2014 Grammy Award for best new artist, has been a regular feature on the hip-hop and R&B circuits, collaborating with the likes of Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Beyoncé and hubby Jay-Z. Last year, he teamed up Kendrick Lamar on the “Black Panther” soundtrack.
The second track, “Me&My (To Bury Your Parents)” has a jazzy feel as well and features Andre 3K on clarinet. The vocals, which Benjamin performs, are an ode to his late mother and father, who died in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Kevin Kendrick, who also has teamed up with several rappers — including Big Boi, the other half of OutKast — plays piano while Andre 3K croons:
“Me and my mother driving to the grocery store/
Me riding shotgun with my window rolled down/
She smokes cigarettes and gets what she gets by hustling harder/
Rollers and a nightgown.”
Since Benjamin and Big Boi released the double album, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” in 2003, the 42-year-old Benjamin has been known to vanish from the music scene for years at a time.
He has dabbled in commercials and acting — most notably portraying Jimi Hendrix in the biopic “Jimi: All Is By My Side” — and also tried his hand at fashion, though he recently announced he lost millions with his Benjamin Bixby line of clothing.
In 2014, he reconnected with Big Boi for a brief OutKast reunion, during which the multiplatinum duo performed at dozens of festivals.
In 2016, Andre 3K featured on tracks by Ocean, Scott, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and A Tribe Called Quest.
On Ocean’s “Solo (Reprise),” Benjamin speaks to his disenchantment with the musical genre that made him famous.
“After 20 years in, I’m so naive; I was under the impression that everyone wrote they own verses/It’s coming back different and, yeah, that st hurts me/I’m humming and whistling to those not deserving/I’ve stumbled and lived every word; was I working just way too hard?”
Benjamin and Big Boi appear to remain in close contact. On Saturday, Big Boi tweeted a photo of the two of them with Big Boi’s son, Bamboo Patton, at Bamboo’s high school graduation. — (CNN)