For decades, Outkast fans have been craving an André 3000 solo album. The ATLien proved he’s capable of perfection without his rhyming partner Big Boi on the duo’s 2003 split album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and, in more recent years, he’s delivered jaw-dropping guest verses for Frank Ocean and Kanye West.
But as we all know, 3 Stacks didn’t deliver a rap album. New Blue Sun, released in November, is an instrumental ambient odyssey led by woodwind – which explains why he’s been sighted tooting away on a Mayan flute in airports and a Starbucks over the years. It’s a beautiful record, and you’ve probably got a mate who loves going on about how they respect André for defying the expectations of a celebrity rapper. These gifts will enhance their soul-soothing listening sessions over the festive period.
A key collaborator on New Blue Sun is Carlos Niño, respected Californian musician and co-founder of LA’s non-profit radio station Dublab. This book tells the story of the experimental platform – the website claims that it somehow “bends time and space through sound.” Cool!
Alice Coltrane jumper by Online Ceramics
After meeting Carlos Niño in a trendy supermarket in Venice Beach, André went to see Niño and his friends perform the music of the late, great avant-garde musician Alice Coltrane in concert, lighting the creative spark for New Blue Sun. This jumper will keep your friend cosy during the chilly months, while also giving them an excuse to tell this obscure story to anyone who asks about it.
Bandcamp gift card
If your friend likes New Blue Sun but is new to the world of ambient jazz, the good news is there’s a deep ocean of this stuff on Bandcamp. A lot of these artists have very small audiences, so could probably do with some more love. And one Bandcamp purchase might make them more coin than a year of streaming royalties. Dig in.
While there’s not yet scientific evidence to support this theory, it does seem as though the sensitive souls who drift towards ambient music tend to suffer from gastrointestinal issues. And kombucha is good for the gut. We haven’t actually tried this one (the company ignored our request for a freebie) but the bottle looks reassuringly fancy, so it won’t look like you’ve made a last-minute Tesco purchase on Christmas Eve.
André took up the flute after hearing pro surfer Kassia Meador play it during a breathwork class in Venice Beach, setting him on his path towards musical rebirth. We can’t guarantee that your mate will become a prodigious flautist, but there does seem to be a lot to gain from taking breathwork classes. This online course claims to help calm the nervous system, helping you to forge a more harmonious relationship between your body and mind.
André has made it clear that his pivot from rap to woodwind reflects his personal growth. “I’m 48 years old. And not to say that age is a thing that dictates what you rap about, but in a way it does,” he told GQ. “Like, what are you talking about? ‘I got to go get a colonoscopy.’” A sign of maturity in a music fan is knowing it’s essential to protect your ears. And ACS are the best in the biz.