Do not adjust your set: André 3000 is releasing his debut solo LP this Friday, November 17. New Blue Sun is a surprise album in more ways than one: In place of beats, bars, and singing, the 87-minute record presents André the flautist. Contrabass flute, Mayan flutes, bamboo flutes, and digital wind instruments feature heavily, NPR reports. One track is titled, “I Swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time.” Another is called “Ninety Three ’Til Infinity and Beyoncé.” The full tracklist, below, is worth your time.
In the past decade and a half, André has sporadically guested on other artists’ tracks, released loosies like “Me&My (To Bury Your Parents),” and reunited Outkast to tour with Big Boi. But unlike his former bandmate, André has avoided longform releases of his own, making New Blue Sun his first full-length since the 2006 Outkast LP Idlewild. During his retreat from the public eye, André occasionally surfaced as an eccentric, wandering figure in Atlanta, airports, and around the world, flute in tow—images gleefully passed among fans online. “I laugh at it because my homies in Atlanta, we’ll talk and they’ll be like, ‘Man, you know n***** think you crazy to f*** around with this flute,” he joked to NPR.
The album was born out of jams André undertook with the vaunted percussionist Carlos Niño. They introduced keyboardist Surya Botofasina and guitarist Nate Mercereau to the fold, recording the improvisations that comprise the LP. Of the new direction, André told NPR, “It’s not like I don’t try or it’s not like I have a lot of these songs just sitting—I have songs but it’s not like rap things that I really feel happy about sharing. And really, that’s the most important part. I have to feel happy about sharing it. That’s why New Blue Sun was something that I realized, whoa, I really want people to hear it. I really want to share it.”
He gauged interest by inviting artist friends to hear early versions. Frank Ocean offered encouragement. Tyler, the Creator told him one song helped him configure a complicated Louis Vuitton travel suitcase, saying, “It sounds like you’re chasing a butterfly through a garden and I figured it out.” André noted that he still works on rap tracks, but “it’s kind of like, I don’t know how to rock on that, really, in a way that I feel great about it. So if I can’t find a way to rock on it, I kind of leave it there.” The new album is inspired by Laraaji, Brian Eno, Alice Coltrane, Steve Reich, Pharoah Sanders, and an ayahuasca trip in which André turned into a panther (see track three).