“Earth to André 3000” was the title of a GQ Style interview with Outkast rapper André Benjamin, and it captures how his fans envision him: a black-star wanderer orbiting our dull, sublunary planet. So, having avoided releasing an album for 17 years, a largely improvised instrumental set on which he’s lead flautist is baffling yet on-brand. Yet even without his raps (“What am I talking about? ‘I got to go get a colonoscopy?’” he huffed recently), it’s an involving listen.
Benjamin is known for his woodwind skills. He played flute on the soundtrack for Everything Everywhere All at Once and clarinet on Look Ma No Hands, a tribute to his mother in 2018. New Blue Sun is even more captivating than his previous works. The song titles are playful and obscure, showcasing his passion for wordplay. It would be intriguing to hear what Outkast would have created inspired by the ayahuasca trip that sparked That Night in Hawaii When I Turned Into a Panther and Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control… Sh¥t Was Wild. However, the track’s dark, swampy beat tells its own intricate story. The opening and closing tracks are also impressive – eerie and unexpected, like postcards from another planet.