All 47 of the suits that Andre ‘3000’ Benjamin wore on this year’s 20 years of Outkast tour are currently on display in a major art exhibition for Art Basel Miami. The musician produced the exhibit in collaboration with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the school he was about to attend before his music career blew up.
Each suit bears a different message, one for every stop on the tour.
“I felt like they were something to see,” Andre told Fusion in a rare interview. “It’s such a dope visual to see an army of thoughts.”
“When I’m on stage, it’s just me giving energy,” he said. But the world of visual arts is a different experience, he says. “It’s just kind of mind energy that you’re looking at it and taking it away instead of being distracted by sounds and movement and lights and that kind of stuff.”
That more cerebral perspective is reinforced by his collaborators in the installation: filmmaker Greg Brunkalla and painter Jimmy O’ Neal, both SCAD alumni.
The title of the exhibition— ‘i feel ya’— is meaningful to Andre because it signifies the sense of validation that he says he and other artists spend their whole lives searching for. “I’ve always kinda wanted people to look at the suits and read a certain suit and say ‘I feel the same way.'”
“We need [validation] to know where we stand,” he said. “So when I’m on the street and people say, ‘man I grew up to this song,’ or ‘this was happening in my life when this song was out,’ I know that feeling because its happened to me before.”
Though Andre has largely dropped off the music scene in recent years, he says that music played a central role in the creation of the suits that led to his exhibit at Art Basel.
“Some of [the phrases on the suits] are lyrics to songs you haven’t heard yet,” he said. We’ll take it.
Shot by Ade Mangum and Romina Puga
Edited by Ade Mangum and Walter Collins