André Lauren Benjamin (born May 27, 1975), better known by his stage name André 3000 (formerly known as Dré), is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and actor, best known for being part of hip-hop duo OutKast alongside fellow rapper Big Boi. As an actor, Benjamin has made appearances in a number of TV series and films, including Families, The Shield, Be Cool, Revolver, Semi-Pro, and Four Brothers.
In addition to music and acting, Benjamin has also been an active entrepreneur. In the spring of 2008, he launched a clothing line called Benjamin Bixby. He has also been an advocate for animal rights. He is also known for his work on the Cartoon Network animated series Class of 3000.
Benjamin was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the only child of Sharon Benjamin Hodor, a single mother who sold real estate, and Lawrence Walker, a collections agent. He is of African and Native American descent. Growing up in East Point, Georgia and Buckhead, he attended Willis A. Sutton Middle School and Tri-Cities High School.
In high school, Benjamin (who was then performing as "Dre") met Antwan "Big Boi" Patton. Benjamin & Patton teamed up to form Outkast. Shortly after graduating high school, the duo was signed to the Atlanta-based LaFace label and released their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, in 1994. Buoyed by the success of the single "Player's Ball", the album went platinum by the end of the year and Outkast was named Best New Rap Group of the Year at the 1995 Source Awards.
On their next two albums, ATLiens and Aquemini, Outkast experimented with their sound by adding elements of trip-hop, soul, and jungle. Benjamin's lyrics in particular took on a more surreal, space-age tinge. Within the time of his second and third albums, Benjamin took up the guitar, painting, and a new relationship with singer Erykah Badu.
Outkast's fourth album, Stankonia, introduced Benjamin's new alias Andre 3000 (largely to distinguish himself from Dr. Dre) and increased the group's crossover appeal with the single "Ms. Jackson", which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written in the aftermath of Benjamin's breakup with Badu and was a fictionalized account of the disintegration of their relationship.
In 2001, Outkast released a greatest hits album, Big Boi and Dre Present... OutKast, which contained three new tracks. One track, "The Whole World", won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Later that year, Benjamin participated in the Dungeon Family group album, which saw a number of prominent Atlanta-based hip-hop groups combine into a supergroup. In 2002, André 3000 was referenced on the song 'Till I Collapse as one of Eminem's favorite rappers.
In 2003, Outkast released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a double album which highlighted the differences in the musical styles of the group's two members. Benjamin's half of the album, The Love Below, garnered the most attention from mainstream audiences, with the popular singles "Hey Ya!" and "Roses". The album's fourth single and video (Benjamin's third), "Prototype", was released shortly after. Big Boi's Speakerboxxx spawned the top ten hit "The Way You Move" and the relatively successful "Ghetto Musick". The Love Below was, unlike Speakerboxxx, an exercise in funk, jazz, and alternative music, featuring vocals from Benjamin (instead of rapped). In 2006, OutKast released their sixth album as a group, Idlewild. The album served as a soundtrack to the group's musical film Idlewild. The film centered on life in a 1930s setting and the album took influences from music of that era, particularly blues. Benjamin had a few rapped verses on the album, including on the first single "Mighty O", but mostly stuck with singing as he had on The Love Below.
On 30 July 2010, Big Boi revealed in an interview that Outkast would release a new album "as soon as Dre finishes his album" stating that Dre is indeed recording an album. He added that they have the beats recorded for the new Outkast album and will continue recording as soon as Dre is done. A snippet of a track titled "I Do" was leaked August 2010 that featured a new rap verse by Benjamin.
In February 2012, Andre stated that there is no new Outkast album in the works, but that he is planning on releasing a solo album later in the year.
Solo work: 2007-present:
He returned to rapping in 2007, after a hiatus from the genre, appearing on various remixes, including: "Walk It Out", "Throw Some D's", "You", Jay-Z's "30 Something." His contributions to original songs included UGK's "International Players Anthem", Devin the Dude's "What A Job", Fonzworth Bentley's "Everybody", and with Big Boi "Royal Flush" and the leaked single "Lookin For Ya". He also appeared on John Legend's album, Evolver, on the track "Green Light", which was released on October 28, 2008. Prior to the release, Benjamin commented: "It's going to be a surprise for a lot of John Legend fans, because it is a lot more upbeat than John is--than people think John is. I was actually happy to hear it. This is a cool John Legend song."
Benjamin has stated that he plans on recording a solo rap album and that the response to his remixes is part of the motivation for it. In 2010, he was featured on Ciara's remix for her hit single "Ride", from the album Basic Instinct. On January 14, 2011, a song with Ke$ha called "The Sleazy Remix" was leaked. On June 7, 2011, Beyoncé's song "Party" was leaked, it features Benjamin, it is his first collaboration with the singer. It is also featured on Beyoncé's fourth studio album entitled 4 released June 24, 2011. The collaboration was later nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 54th Grammy Awards held in 2012. ,
On August 24, 2011, Lil Wayne's album Tha Carter IV leaked, featuring a song entitled "Interlude" with Benjamin and fellow rapper Tech N9ne performing. Wayne had previously expressed a desire to work with both artists.
Also in 2011, Andre featured on Chris Brown's "Deuces" remix, Lloyd's song "Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)" with Lil' Wayne, and Drake's "The Real Her" featuring Lil' Wayne. He also was featured on two Ke$ha tracks titled "Sleazy", one of which features just him and one featuring Lil' Wayne, T.I., Wiz Khalifa, and himself. He also featured on the track, "Play the Guitar" by B.o.B.
On February 9, 2012, it was announced that he would be featured on a song with James Murphy and Gorillaz called DoYaThing, to promote the Gorillaz Converse collection.
On July 10, 2012, Channel Orange, the debut album from R&B singer and Odd Future affiliate Frank Ocean was released. Andre was featured on track 15 entitled "Pink Matter". It has also been confirmed that he will contribute a verse on the track "Sixteen" on the upcoming album God Forgives, I Don't by Rick Ross.
Andre's music aliases:
Early in Andre's career and prior to his major-market success, Benjamin developed several aliases that he used in various attempts to establish recognition and develop his fan base. His aliases ranged from simply Dre' to humorous names such as Possum Aloysius Jenkins. His biggest alias prior to his career with Outkast was "the Feat" or Feat. Andre is now most commonly referred to as Andre 3000.
Benjamin has made appearances in Families, The Shield (he plays Robert Huggins, a character that originated in an episode titled "On Tilt" from Season 3 in 2004), Be Cool, Revolver, Semi Pro, and Four Brothers. He was also cast as Percival in Idlewild, released on August 26, 2006. He is currently shooting a movie with Big Boi for HBO. He is also currently working on an as-of-yet untitled project, filming on location in Louisiana and is being produced by Chesley Seals and Kat Hantas. He voiced a crow in Charlotte's Web, a movie adaptation of the 1952 children's book. As of November 2006, he voiced "Sunny Bridges," a prize-winning musician who gives up touring to teach at his alma mater, in Class of 3000, an animated series he produced on Cartoon Network. Benjamin was accused by Timothy Mcgee for supposedly 'stealing' his idea of the show. He has also worked with Esthero on a promotional version of "Jungle Book" which was on a Wikked lil' grrrls sampler, but never made it to the actual album due to issues with Esthero's label, Warner Bros..
The following year, he appeared in the basketball comedy Semi-Pro, with Woody Harrelson and Will Ferrell. He also starred in the 2007 film Battle in Seattle, a film about the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests.
Benjamin was a member of Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender's production company A Band Apart until its close in 2006; he then formed his own company, Moxie Turtle.
In May 2012, Benjamin began filming a biopic about Jimi Hendrix entitled All Is By My Side. The Hendrix estate has denied use of any Hendrix's songs in the film, so it is likely that Benjamin will have to record his own cover versions of Hendrix's songs for the film's soundtrack. It has also been confirmed that he has recorded music for the film, though it is not clear if there are any Hendrix covers. However, he does cover songs that Hendrix himself covered at one point, including songs by The Beatles and Muddy Waters.
He launched the "Benjamin Bixby" clothing line in spring of 2008, inspired by college football circa 1935.
In 2004, alongside Alicia Silverstone, Benjamin was voted by PETA to be the 'World's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity'. He is also childhood friends with Fonzworth Bentley. Benjamin also has a son named Seven Sirius Benjamin (born 1997) with R&B singer Erykah Badu. Benjamin was arrested in Henry County, Georgia in March 2009 after being caught driving his 2007 Porsche Carrera 109 mph in a 65 mph speed zone.
Politics and endorsements:
Benjamin posed for a print advertising campaign by Declare Yourself, a campaign encouraging voter registration among youth for the 2008 United States presidential election. In the ads by photographer David LaChapelle, he has his mouth gagged by a bow-tie in a symbolic function. The ads drew national attention. He is a current spokesman for Gillette razors.