3 Stacks The Therapist? What Andre 3000 Taught Me About Self-Awareness
"The more I read these revelations, the more I began to connect with Andre in ways that made me feel uncomfortable."
“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.”
— Andre 3000
Producer? Shoe designer? Actor? Andre 3000 may not know what his next calling in life is going to be, but life coach may need to be on the shortlist.
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GQ published an interview for GQ Style with one of the most culturally iconic artists our generation has seen, Sir Andre Lauren Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000, one half of the mighty Outkast, where he discusses what life looks like at the age of 42 after some major life changes.
As a native Atlanta and the unofficial fan club president of the Dungeon Family, any time I’m able to look inside the mind of a man who influenced not only my personal style and musical palette, but my ability to see myself through multiple lenses, I’m ecstatic. Andre has painted pictures for many a young, black mind over the years and after reading this interview, it left me with a deeper respect for him as a man and a mentor. As someone going through my own period of healing and transformation, I feel that Andre’s expression of accountability and awareness is a fundamental starting point for the transformation of black male lives.
In the interview, 3 Stacks candidly discusses life transitions, including the loss of his parents, and how the diagnoses of social anxiety ushered him into a period of isolation where he wrestled with, as he stated, “... the things that all musicians get into at some point.”
“You can’t run from it. Especially when you stop being at your height, and you can’t match that energy. So you try to find other ways to match it, and you really can’t. And then you have all these ideas and then forget ’em. So I need to get out of here …. 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…”
He further discusses how his life has unfolded after coming into celebrity at the age of 17, and how early success enabled him in ways that left him a product of uncompleted ideas, stalled projects and failed relationships. As much success as he’s achieved, 3000, like so many of us, still wrestles with the ghosts of unrealized dreams and potential. All under a global microscope and dealing with the same struggles we all do. The more I read these revelations, the more I began to connect with Andre in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. My ability to identify so easily with Dre’s struggles held me even more accountable to becoming aware of and healing my own, especially regarding the loss of my father.
“...And when my dad passed away, there was mourning for him dying, but there was a whole ’nother wave of mourning because I realized, Whoa, he died in his house alone. And I wondered: Had he done everything he wanted to do?...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 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.”
September of last year, my father died alone in his sleep. Prior to that, my father and I had begun making progress in establishing some type of relationship to the tune of a record long eight-minute phone conversation and meeting of his granddaughter, which was ultimately my last time seeing him alive. Upon his death, I began to learn just how gifted and successful my father was in his younger years, a reality that escaped him during my childhood and adolescence as he struggled with various demons until his untimely transition. So as a father, actively healing from my own childhood and relational traumas, Andre’s transparency in regards to his father is shining a bright light on some of my own areas of healing. The main being, that in order to defeat something, you have to understand what it is you’re fighting. And that everything is not to be fought, just simply accepted and built upon. Andre’s acceptance of the influence his parent’s lives had on him — good and bad — speaks to the transformative power of self-awareness and what happens when you hold yourself accountable for your own happiness.
For years, Andre has done an Avenger-like job of remaining unseen and relatively unheard until he so desires. And reading this interview, I now empathize with the need for isolation and what transformation has had to take place for him to answer his soul’s call versus that of his celebrity. To live life on his own accord while actively engaging in the self-work and personal growth that has always been at the center of everything he does, intensified even more with age and understanding. And putting this all into the perspective of him as an icon, a mentor so many of us see ourselves in, it gives me hope in our abilities to embrace multi-leveled, nuanced, identities as black men while still holding ourselves accountable for our own healing and collective progression. Sir Benjamin’s transparency, especially while praising his partner Big Boi’s business savvy, family structure and confidence, displays a side of greatness we rarely get a chance to see. That of humility.
“Yeah, running around the world. I can say, man, my partner, Big Boi, has always been on it. He’s sharp. He always knew the right decisions. He got into a real relationship really early. Right before our second album, he had a kid, and he and the girl stayed together, and they’re married now. I did the opposite. I’m all over the place. I never went on real dates. I don’t want to meet anybody’s parents. Like, I’m a fucking rapper ... 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.”
As lauded as Andre is as compared to Big Boi, he frequently pays respects to his rap partner's strengths setting an example for us as men to learn and grow from each other. A part of his greatness is that he still sees himself as a work in progress. This is a lesson that 3 Stacks does an effortless job of teaching us all in this interview. We’re all really just works in progress. Keep killing the Tretorns, and we’re still waiting on that Jimi Hendrix biopic, but Dre you just might need to look into life coaching, big bruh.
3 Stacks the Therapist? Now that’s a couch I’ll sit on any day of the week.