Andre 3000 and his flute can do whatever they want

The iconic hip-hop star will be a featured flutist on a new A24 soundtrack.

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Culture

André 3000 has a stoic view on aging. “With the word ‘hip-hop’, first you have to be hip. The older you get, you get further away from that hipness,” he told Hard Knock TV in 2014 on a press tour for his leading role as Jimi Hendrix in the biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side. And while he’s not necessarily wrong — it can be hard to keep up with what’s cool, the older you get — his self-preservation against aging by staying out of the limelight has almost served to do the opposite. André 3000 is cool immortalized in many ways.

Part of how he’s managed that is through evolving his creativity, especially in learning new instruments — which he considers a form of meditation. He’s gone viral over the years for randomly playing the flute in public spaces like LAX, Starbucks, and parks, and now he’ll be taking that vaudevillian inclination professional. He’s featured as a flutist under his real name, André Benjamin, on the soundtrack for A24’s highly anticipated new film Everything Everywhere All At Once. The film is directed by the duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as Daniels.

The innovative film house has André playing flute on the songs “My Life Without You,” “The Boxcutter,” “Dog Fight” and “Pinky Fight.” He will also be featured alongside fan-favorite indie darlings Mitski and Moses Sumney, as well as piano legend and soundtrack king Randy Newman, and fellow king of persevering cool David Byrne. New York-based Son Lux scored the soundtrack and said of the project, “Even though we knew from the moment Daniels asked us to score this film that it would push us in new and unexpected directions, we couldn’t have predicted how much we’d learn from the project. ... What emerged was our most ambitious undertaking to date, over two years in the making, resulting in two hours of new music.”

André has been lowkey in the 16 years since Outkast’s final album Idlewild came out in 2006, selectively surfacing for sparse guest appearances on other artists’ work. But he’s turned his philosophy on not trying to stay hip into a meta hipness of its own. He continued to Hard Knock on eventually not rapping, “Once you start trying to imitate that thing, people see it man, and it becomes embarrassing. ... I wouldn’t have much to offer to the game at a certain point. It’s like being a boxer.” And yet by not trying to imitate any kind of new trends in hip-hop, André has created his own niche cool that contributes plenty. He has a keen sense for how to pop back into the cultural conversation — he contributed a gorgeous ode to his mother on Kanye West’s “Life of the Party,” and lent his iconic timbre to a recent Super Bowl ad for Squarespace featuring Zendaya. Regardless of his notions about his place as an elder in hip-hop, André “3000” Benjamin will be hip and cool forever.