The first thing that has to be made clear, right off the bat, is that no matter what you may have heard, Outkast isn't on the verge of a breakup.
"We're concentrating on what we're doing now, which is the 'Idlewild' movie and the 'Idlewild' soundtrack," says Andre Benjamin, also known as Andre 3000. "As far as the rumors, I guess you've got to say that we've been doing it for 12 or 13 years, we ain't shot nobody, we ain't killed nobody, we ain't slapped nobody, we didn't go to jail, we ain't sleepin' with Paris Hilton, so what can you talk about?" And, when people say, 'Well, Andre, he's not going on tour,' or 'Andre don't want to be on a record label,' or 'He don't want to be in the music business, as far as a label,' those decisions make people say, 'Well, him and Big Boi are driftin' apart.' But, really, that's a personal choice and we both, definitely, understand it. So, we most definitely not breaking up or driftin'."
No. Really. Trust them. Outkast is all good.
"They take things you say and try to take it out of context, like 'Well, maybe Dre's mad because Big Boi's married.' Just stupid stuff," insists Antwan Patton, better known as Big Boi. "But, we've been saying for years, it's about the music. Our personal lives are our personal lives. Us, as far as individuals, the brotherhood we have, we had the brainchild Outkast. We made that idea, and that principle has never left us. We created this, and nothing music or movies do can break this up. That's my dawg, for life."
Dawgs for life, Patton and Benjamin are on the verge of a major career shift with the release of "Idlewild," their wild and anachronistic 1930s musical. Directed by frequent Outkast video helm Bryan Barber, "Idlewild" was originally developed for HBO. Expanded for a big screen release courtesy of Universal, "Idlewild" is like nothing that viewers have seen or heard before.
"As far as the music, we knew that it was [set in the] 1930s, so we kept in mind, when we were writing and producing, that this was a period piece, but at the same time, we're Outkast and we've got a responsibility to live up to our fans, so we had to make sure that it was modern as well," Benjamin explains.
Patton adds, "Us being influenced by every musical genre, and using every aspect of music in our records, that was an advantage we had because we were never biased to one particular type of music. We listen to rock, jazz, blues, pop, country, hip-hop and the whole nine yards, so to go back and throw a little swing in there... I think, previous albums that we've had, we always had a touch of that ragtime feel, and we just had a chance to do what we wanted to do. Like Dre said, it is 30's, but we can still satisfy our fans by doing what we do best."
Benjamin chirps up, "It's called 'freakin' it.' That's what you do," to which Patton tosses in "Freak that thang."
While Benjamin and Patton are, indeed, friendly enough to sit on a panel chatting with the press and they play off each other well, they have very few scenes together in "Idlewild," as Big Boi's lively singer Rooster and Andre 3000's more withdrawn piano playing Percival mostly go about their separate lives.
"That was another great call by Bryan," Patton. "The type of movie that he wanted to make was not the buddy-buddy type of movie, where we were like, 'Hey, what's going on?' Where, if it's two stories being told, and there's a brotherhood that's established and the stories kind of come in, intertwine, and then go out and come back in, I think it's more interesting that way. That way, you got to know each character, individually, and then separated the two, and you saw, really, what was going on."
Given that the last Outkast album, the Grammy-winning double-disc "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," was also a pairing of separate projects, fans probably won't be surprised, not that fandom is a requirement for seeing "Idlewild."
"I would say, even if you're not an Outkast fan, or even a music fan, really, you will enjoy the movie," Benjamin promises. "You're going to laugh, you'll cry, you'll get pissed off, which is all the things you want from a movie."
"Idlewild" opens everywhere on Friday, Aug. 25.