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Creative Learning Cannes Lions

André 3000 on creativity and crafting your own cool


By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

June 18, 2024 | 7 min read

Amid the sun-soaked glamour of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, an unlikely sage appeared on the horizon. André 3000, the enigmatic half of Outkast, took the stage with Alvin Bowles of Meta.

André 3000 on stage at Cannes with Alvin Bowles of Meta

André 3000 and Meta’s Alvin Bowles

When André 3000 sat down with Meta’s Alvin Bowles at Cannes, what followed wasn’t just a discussion; it was a masterclass in creativity, authenticity and the art of staying true to oneself. If it doesn’t resonate, André posits, it’s not truly creative. To be genuinely cool, one must craft their own world.

Creativity and self-disruption

André 3000 is no stranger to reinvention. “I keep my antennas up,” he says, explaining his relentless quest for newness. Picture a human radar, constantly scanning for fresh inspiration. “I try to look at things new all the time. If I don’t feel like I’m doing anything new, I have to keep pushing myself.”

He speaks with the calm assurance of a man who knows his lane and sticks to it. “I can’t please everybody. As long as I’m doing what I love and meeting my own standards, that’s all I can do.” It’s a mantra of self-assurance, a blueprint for anyone seeking authenticity in their work.

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Creating your own world

André’s secret sauce is all about building a unique universe. “Your upbringing, your family and your environment shape what you are into. That’s your own special sauce.” He reminisces about the Dungeon Family, the legendary Atlanta-based collective that includes luminaries like Goodie Mob, CeeLo and Big Boi. “We built a world that no one on the outside could replicate. Sometimes, you really have to create your own world to be cool to other people.”

This isn’t about isolation; it’s about offering something fresh to the world. “If you’re doing it for yourself, you can make music at home. But when you present it to the world, you hope for connection.” For André 3000, art without resonance is like a tree falling in an empty forest.

Authenticity and connection

André 3000’s approach to creativity hinges on authenticity. “Set real goals for yourself that no one else can take away from you, and you’ll be good.” This nugget of wisdom serves as a shield against the storm of external validation. It’s about staying true to one’s vision, come what may.

And in a twist that might surprise many, André shuns social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. “I’ve never had a Facebook account. I only have Instagram to prevent people from stealing my name, but I’ve never posted anything.” It’s a refreshing reminder that real connections often trump virtual likes.

Rapid-fire Q&A with André 3000

Facebook or Instagram?

I’ve never had a Facebook account and I only have Instagram to prevent people from stealing my name. I’ve never posted anything.

Celtics or Mavericks?

My kid is in Dallas, so I lean toward the Mavericks, but I like the Celtics’ green uniforms.

Jazz or hip-hop?

They are one and the same. Jazz musicians were the rappers of their time, creating with what they had, just like today’s hip-hop artists.

AI in your creative process?

I’ve tried using AI in both visual art and music. Right now, it’s mostly party tricks, but the underlying technology is what’s truly interesting.

Inspiration from instrumental music

As a rapper, one might expect André to be all about the lyrics. But these days, it’s instrumental music that captures his imagination. “It’s intriguing to me to feel very emotional about notes and not necessarily words.” There’s a certain magic, he explains, in how a sequence of chords can stir the soul.

Embracing AI

In a world increasingly dominated by artificial intelligence, André remains cautiously optimistic. He dabbles in AI for both visual art and music, intrigued by the technology’s potential beyond mere party tricks. “Right now, we see a lot of party tricks that AI can do, but the technology behind it is what we should focus on.”

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Lessons for creatives

André 3000’s insights offer a treasure trove of wisdom for marketing and advertising creatives. His emphasis on authenticity, personal connection, and the importance of creating a unique world can inspire creatives to push boundaries and stay true to their vision. By setting personal goals and drawing from genuine experiences, creatives can craft campaigns that truly resonate with audiences. As André illustrates, the real magic happens when your work connects on a deeper level. In a world awash with noise, the key to standing out is creating something that genuinely resonates.

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