André 3000 is a special breed of musician. In today’s congested music scene, it’s difficult to vacate the game but still remain top of mind—gone but not forgotten. Consistently finding himself on peoples’ top-10—and even top-five—GOAT lists, André’s unique, distinct flow and lyrical prowess have afforded him relevancy despite his absence.  It’s been eight-years since Outkast dropped an album, but 3stacks is making big waves in 2016.

The mystery surrounding Frank Ocean’s heavily anticipated follow-up album consumed the music world since his initial April ‘15 announcement for Boys Don’t Cry. Countless delays tugged on our heart strings, but on August 20, 2016, we finally received a new project under a different name: Blond—a 17-track project (as well as a 45-minute album, Endless, released the day before). Top to bottom, Blond demonstrates Frank’s undeniable depth and talent, and confirms why we tolerate him. But one track stands out from the rest: André 3000’s “Solo (Reprise).”

Hearing André’s distinct voice was like getting a phone call from an old friend whom you hadn’t heard from in a while—initially awkward, yet ultimately comforting. Using clever wordplay, André discusses his desensitization to society’s shortcomings and how it’s rendered him jaded. Repeated issues have made André insensitive and forced him to filter life through a cold, hardened lens. “So low that I can admit, When I hear that another kid is shot by the popo, It ain’t an event no more.” He’s never afraid to speak his mind, despite the chilling truth he reveals. This desensitization develops into frustration from his seasoned music perspective with lines like: “After 20 years in, I’m so naïve, I was under the impression, That everyone wrote they own verses, It’s comin’ back different and, yeah, that shit hurts me, I’m hummin’ and whistlin’ to those not deserving.” Despite his absence from the game, André always keeps his lyrics topical and real, and puts these wack emcees (Sway voice) on trial through his unparalleled rapid-fire flow. Getting an André verse is an extreme rarity, so after he dropped this gem I just assumed he’d go back into hibernation. Thanks for proving me wrong 3stacks!

I’m a massive Travis Scott fan. His innovative production and composition, coupled with his rugged flow, generates impressive, addicting music. If you read my article on Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade, then you know I couldn’t wait to hear Travie’s new project. His first song, “The Ends,” commanded my attention immediately through it's enticing draw. And just as soon as I thought it couldn’t get any better, I heard that comforting voice.

Travis recruited André for the second verse on this track. Holy shit! I’m going to take a preemptive pause because André, like a fine wine, matures with age. He’s been in the game for over 20-years and never fails to impress. Consistent with the deflating themes he explores on “Solo (Reprise),” André takes us swimming in disturbing waters on his 16 for “The Ends.”  He recounts the horrid story of the 1979-81 Atlanta child murders that took place near his childhood home. The case's subject, Wayne Williams, posed as a record executive to lure children away and after brutally murdering his victims, he dumped their corpses off a bridge. André recounts the horror through lines: “I came up in the town, they were muderin’ kids, And dumped them in the creek up from where I live, Bodies, bodies, bodies sprinkled around, We runnin’ through the sprinkler lookin’ around.”  André carried the pain of potential abduction throughout his adolescence, leaving him emotionally scarred. Despite the dark subject matter, there is one light: stacks is dropping some of the hottest verses of 2016.

André 3000 is like a drug. I was off him for a while, and I was getting by—even doing well—but now that I’ve heard a couple verses, it’s like I’ve fully relapsed. Don’t be shocked if you see me walking down the street aggressively scratching my neck screaming “ANDRE!” There are rumors brewing about a 2016 debut solo album, but I’m trying to manage my expectations and not get my hopes up, for fear of them being crushed. If André does miraculously pull through and bequeath a solo album, fully expect me to be locked up in my apartment, phone off the hook, blinds closed, consuming greatness. Regardless if he delivers, André 3000 will always be a top-10 GOAT in my book.