André 3000 on the Pandemic and Protests: "You Get to See Who You Really Are"

The Outkast MC had "lost hope in marches — until now"
André 3000 on the Pandemic and Protests: 'You Get to See Who You Really Are'
While his impromptu public flute performances may be on hold for the time being, André 3000 recently moved to support the Movement for Black Lives by turning his Outkast reunion jumpsuits into a line of limited-edition shirts. On top of that, the artist shared thoughts on continuing protests for racial justice and equality — and the ongoing pandemic — in a new interview.

In conversation with Blackbird Spyplane from New York last week, André shared his current feeling to be "this perfect, ugly, nasty, beautiful feeling that I can't describe...But it's so necessary," further elaborating on what scenes of demonstrations worldwide have brought out in him:

I feel like, marches, in the '60s, they worked, but over time they might have lost power. The opposition figures out the trick, and they figure out how to deaden it. Honestly, I lost hope in marches — until now. I saw it working again and I said, 'Whoa.' The thing is that, for it to work, people have to turn out, and now it's kind of the perfect storm because corona had everyone at home, and we had nothing to do but react — and people wanted to be outside. It's kind of a blessing and a curse: If everyone was at work right now, going about their business, the protest turnout wouldn't be anywhere near as high. But it's been a long time coming and it came to a head right now.

Of the pandemic, he added, "It's affecting all of us — things like classism and money separate us, but this sets the record straight. Of course there's still injustices, in terms of testing and health care. I guess we're seeing how bad it is, but that's the point: this makes every one see it clearly. I love that part of it, because it's making everyone respond in some type of way. You get to see who you really are."

While André shared that he had not attended a protest himself over concerns of getting infected, he echoed Dave Chapelle in questioning the benefit of celebrity hogging the spotlight of these social movements.

"I saw a lot of rappers getting pressured by people, with fans saying, 'You need to be out here, where are y'all,'" he explained. "But you have to think about it: How much of it is just for the people to say, We saw a celebrity there? What if your favorite rapper goes out — I'm not even talking about me, 'cause I'm from the '90s, but the kids' favorite rapper now, say they go out and catch corona and die? Were they more effective and valuable to all of us at home writing music, and doing what they do best?"

André also elaborated on the importance of having his aforementioned line of shirts "made ethically" by a woman-owned, woman-run company in Los Angeles, using recycled cotton. "You'd have to look at their books to see what 'made ethically' means specifically," he clarified, "but they seemed to be doing great work in L.A., making great product and their hearts were in the right place."

André recalled, "Making clothes over the years, learning about the industry, I've flown to China and Italy to see the sourcing for the things I've made, and every day I'm looking for better ways to make it make sense, because honestly a lot of these clothes we're making aren't necessary, so we have to find the best way to make these artful goods.

"We're not in Alaska where we need to cover ourselves to survive — these are fashion. So we need to find ways to make the footprint smaller. For instance, I'm learning how much water it takes to make a shirt and I never knew that. I used to think, 'How could clothes hurt people?' I had no idea."

You can read André 3000's complete interview here.