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André 3000

André 3000 at the 2007 Comic Con in San Diego, California.
Background information
Birth name André Lauren Benjamin
Born May 27, 1975 (1975-05-27) (age 34)[1]
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Genres Hip hop, funk, soul, alternative rock
Occupations Musician, actor, rapper, dancer, singer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, saxophone, harmonica, violin
Years active 1991–present
Labels LaFace
Associated acts Big Boi, OutKast, Dungeon Family, Erykah Badu, Sleepy Brown, Fonzworth Bentley, Kelis, Patti LaBelle, John Legend, TLC

André Lauren Benjamin (born May 27, 1975),[1] better known by his stage name André 3000 (and sometimes simply Dre), is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor, best known for his work in the group OutKast.


Early life

Benjamin was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sharon Benjamin Hodor, a single mother who sold real estate, and Lawrence Walker, a collections agent who was arrested multiple times for aggravated assault and possession of marijuana.[2][3] He is of African American and Native American descent.[4] Being an only child and growing up in Decatur and Buckhead, Benjamin saw many different lifestyles related to clothing and music that he combined throughout his career. He attended Willis A. Sutton Middle School, and Tri-Cities High School, where orchestra teacher Mrs. Natalie F. Colbert taught him how to play the violin.

Music career

In high school, Benjamin (who was then performing as "Dre") met Antwan "Big Boi" Patton. After a few lyrical battles, the two teamed up to form Outkast. Shortly after graduating high school, the duo were 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. At this time Benjamin took up the guitar and painting and became involved with singer Erykah Badu.

Outkast's fourth album, Stankonia, saw Benjamin take on the new name of 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 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 #1 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 mostly sung (instead of rapped) vocals from Benjamin.

He returned to rapping in 2007, after a long time away from the genre, appearing on various remixes, including "Walk It Out," "Throw Some D's," The Infamous' "Billy BLAZE" "You," Jay-Z's "30 Something," and a few original songs such as UGK's "International Players Anthem", Devin the Dude's "What A Job", Fonzworth Bentley's "Everybody", and Big Boi's single "Royal Flush". He also appeared on John Legend's latest 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 is making a solo rap album, and that the response to his remixes is part of the motivation for it.[5]

Film career

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 voices "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. 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 2008 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.


He launched the "Benjamin Bixby" clothing line in spring of 2008, inspired by college football circa 1935.[6]

Personal life

In 2004, alongside Alicia Silverstone, Benjamin was voted by PETA to be the 'World's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity.[7] He has a son with ex-partner Erykah Badu named Seven Sirius Benjamin. Long time mentor to Los Angeles visual artist and fashion designer JaQ Dutch, who Andre's unique style is emulated by.[8] He is also childhood friends with Fonzworth Bentley.

He was arrested in Henry County, Georgia in March 2009 after being caught driving his car 109 mph in a 65 mph speed zone.[9]


Politics and endorsements

Benjamin posed for a bondage-themed 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.[10] The ads drew national attention.



Year Film Role Notes
2003 Hollywood Homicide Silk Brown
2005 Be Cool Dabu
Four Brothers Jeremiah Mercer
Volcano High Kim Yung Soo Voice only
Revolver Avi
2006 Idlewild Percival
Charlotte's Web Elwyn the Crow Voice only
Scary Movie 4 Jack Uncredited
2007 Fracture George
Battle in Seattle Django
2008 Semi-Pro Clarence 'Coffee Black' Malone


Year Show Role Notes
2004 The Shield Comic Book Store Owner then later politician, Robert Huggins two episodes, including series finale episode
2006-2007 Class of 3000 Sunny Bridges Twenty Six episodes
2008 About a Girl Security guard Single episode

Video games

Benjamin provided his voice for the 2005 video game L.A. Rush.


External links


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