All posts tagged: hip-hop fans

André 3000’s Flute Album Is Not Background Music

André 3000’s Flute Album Is Not Background Music

In 2017, I spoke with a music historian to understand the trend of flute rap: a boom in rappers rhyming about codeine, cars, and trauma over the soft sound of breath moving through a tube. Ardal Powell, the author of The Flute, told me that nothing surprised him when it came to this instrument. It is possibly the oldest musical device in the world. Neanderthals and 15th-century Swiss mercenaries and 1970s heavy-metal bands found use for it. Why not rappers? The “key thing in the history of the flute, going back thousands of years,” Powell said, is that “it’s the closest instrument to the human voice.” No reed or mouthpiece separates the player’s breath from the sound it makes. This observation suggested that the flute, all along, was a bit hip-hop. And at its best, rap can seem like an act of inner channeling, of making the body and mind one. The flute is difficult to master but, fundamentally, intuitive to operate—intuitive like tapping out a rhythm, or like speaking. André 3000’s intuition long ago …