New Blue Sun: A Meditation on Techno-Vernacular Creativity

Nettrice Gaskins
3 min readNov 18, 2023
Me + Neural image style transfer + 3 Stacks AKA Andre 3000

Today (Friday), New Blue Sun, the first solo album by Andre 3000 dropped. Fans have waited for two decades for the legendary rapper and performer to release an album but what they got was Los Angeles mediation music (which I’m into). About three songs in I was reminded of the interlude music in between songs on Outkast’s ATLiens such as this one:

“BuyPolarDisorder’s Daughter Wears a 3000® T-Shirt Embroidered” is the song that transported me back to ATLiens.

ATLiens fully demonstrated the duo’s embrace of their moniker, intentionally separating themselves from any recognizable scripts of hip hop as a bicoastal cultural expression. — Regina Bradley

“BuyPolarDisorder’s Daughter” (also my favorite track on the new album) is 13 minutes long, calling to mind Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction noir film Blade Runner that was composed by electronic musician Vangelis. It inspired a portrait (see top image) that I created while sitting in a Boston airport, waiting for my flight to Los Angeles. I read somewhere that New Blue Sun was LA meditation music.

Album cover for Atliens (1996)

ATLiens was a turning point for Andre 3000, who found himself while crafting the album. He was thinking and talking about other worlds: We knew somebody had to be out here in the universe other than just us. So when I talked about IFOs ‘landing in Decatur,’ I knew some folks had already seen that shit: identified flying objects.

Me + Midjourney + Sun Ra

Decades before Atliens a jazz maverick named Sun Ra saw technological and scientific knowledge as a key for African Americans to keep pace with mainstream American society. Whoever failed to keep up with technology, that is, “to both use and reinvent the tools of white society,” would be left behind (Kreiss 61). Therefore, Sun Ra was always urging people to be prepared for the space age and future technology.

“Ants to You, Gods to Who?” is my second favorite track from New Blue Sun. While most the wind instruments played by Andre 3000 may not be considered to be technological, the sounds he created using them feel futuristic. On the other hand, Andre is on record talking about using a digital wind instrument for the first time. It feels like something you might hear as you prepare to exit a spaceship on some far away planet.

The way Andre 3000 flipped the conversation from 50 years of hip-hop to the future of non categorizable Black music that swings between cosmic jazz and an electro classical synth sound is epic. I hear processionals — Alice Coltrane and Black church style organs in the shadow. — Lynnee Denise

In an interview for GQ (see above), 3 Stacks talks about playing with new (digital) instruments that, according to him, were discovered just before recording the new album. He says, What you are hearing is me going through patches on the instrument, and you can hear me figuring the instrument out… to me that’s one of the coolest things about the recording. I’m listening to myself be a baby at something. Anyway, I wrote all this to say that something important happened in hip hop culture today… and it falls in line with the quickly changing landscape in art and technology. The time for transformation is now.

References

Kreiss, Daniel. “Appropriating the Master’s Tools: Sun Ra, the Black Panthers, and Black Consciousness, 1952–1973. Black Music Research Journal 28.1 (2008): 57–81. JSTOR. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.

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Nettrice Gaskins

Nettrice is a digital artist, academic, cultural critic and advocate of STEAM education.