This past week saw the release of a new album from Andre 3000, one half of the renowned rap group Outkast. Lots of folks were hoping for a rap album from him after so long away from the studio, but he released something altogether different and unexpected… an instrumental album composed almost entirely of flutes.
I respect the hell out of Andre 3000 for following his heart and art instead of doing what was likely “expected” of him.
It’s a very niche offering, to be sure. It’s ambient and flowing, something to put on while you’re working or relaxing. (I’m listening to it as I write this, actually.) The song titles are worth a mention on their own, with the opening track titled, in full, “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a Rap Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time.” But all that weirdness and unexpectedness is what makes me appreciate and respect it even more.
Artists shouldn’t be afraid to go off in unexpected or weird directions. They shouldn’t feel confined to what people expect of them, or to what they think people will want to buy from them. If the wind is blowing you in a direction you never considered, you should absolutely travel down that path, even if just for a little while. It could open your eyes to things you never thought you’d see or enjoy while you were sticking to safely-traveled pathways.
And letting yourself be taken by a strong wind can create a creative gust that extinguishes the encroaching fires of burnout.
I feel like I did something similar when I returned to this comic and the world of Dominic Deegan. I could have easily done Oracle for Hire 2, featuring the original cast members and how the long years away had treated them. It would have been a safe return to expected and well-traveled roads, but the wind was blowing me in a different direction. It was a riskier direction, to be sure, and The Legacy of Dominic Deegan certainly hasn’t been for everyone, even some of my old readers, but it was right for me and right for those of you who have found it appealing.
An artist has to do right by themselves, and those who choose to follow them on their strange and unexpected journeys will hopefully find new things to enjoy alongside them.