Sure, she’s already collaborated with Eve, but if two of her more recent partnerships are any indication, Gwen Stefani is in even more of a hip-hop state of mind than previously expected as she continues to work on her solo debut.
Outkast and Missy Elliott spilled the beans on their collaborations to MTV News at this year’s VMAs, but both stressed that the No Doubt singer’s album is still a work in progress (see “Gwen Stefani Recording Solo Material” ) and that their contributions may not make the final cut. They also said they’re encouraged by Stefani’s open-mindedness in exploring new directions.
“I think the album will sound totally different than her No Doubt stuff,” Outkast’s Andre 3000 said. “And that’s cool. Step out and do something new sometime. It could be interesting.”
Outkast said the tracks they’ve already submitted were “some of the strangest stuff” they could, just to encourage Stefani along the road not usually taken.
“It’s kinda like mid-tempo, like Outkast,” Big Boi said, “but something you wouldn’t normally hear her on. … You just submit something that you think might cause them to switch to something new, something where they don’t do their usual [thing] on it, something where they sound a little different. Give it to her and see how she’s freaking it and [how] she brings it back.”
One track, “Long Way to Go,” is designed as a duet about interracial relationships. Andre had intended it for his own solo album (one CD’s worth of Outkast’s upcoming double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below). “We thought it would be a cool concept,” he said, “talking about a girl that didn’t have the same color as your skin, but it’s a cooler concept for her album.”
As for Elliott, she said that she and Stefani were still discussing concepts and didn’t have any finished tracks yet. “She came down to the studio and we vibed instantly, worked out a couple of ideas” she said. “But she’s still figuring out her direction, so I’m waiting on her at the moment.”
Elliott — who is never at a loss for projects to keep her busy — also has plenty of patience and doesn’t mind waiting. “When we get together, when she does this record, it’s not going to be just another record,” Elliott said. “It’s going to be an event.”
And in case Stefani is at a loss for ideas, the boys in Duran Duran have welcomed her to try out a few with them, since they wouldn’t mind including her on their own upcoming record.
“[Collaborators], that stuff is always going to be in the cards,” Simon LeBon said. “That’s usually a matter of luck and people’s schedules being able to allow it.”
“It also has to work musically,” Andy Taylor said. “We’re not just going to bring someone in because they’re Gwen Stefani …”
“Oh, I would!” LeBon laughed.
—Jennifer Vineyard, with additional reporting by Corey Moss and SuChin Pak