Damn. Andre 3000 Benjamin, one half of the musical
phenomenon OutKast the man justly dubbed Worlds Best Dressed Man by Esquire magazine is dressed like a
In the comedy Semi-Pro
starring Will Ferrell (Jackie Moon) and co-starring Woody Harrelson (Monix),
Benjamin plays basketball star Clarence Coffee Black Withers for the Flint
Michigan Tropics, a fictitious team in the American Basketball Association
In one scene, the fashion-forward trendsetter dons a pink,
turquoise and yellow seahorse costume, fins and all. While he liked Coffee
Blacks attitude, which added flair to the leather trench coats and the
skin-tight turtlenecks, Benjamin just couldnt get with some of the 70s styled
Some of the clothing maybe [went] a little bit too far. I couldnt
really do bell bottoms, he says. I dont know if it really works right now,
but you only get one or two chances in a lifetime to do something like that.
As far as the aquatic digs go, My character didnt like it and I didnt like
Andres character is modeled after the ABAs most famous
player, Julius Erving, better known as Dr. J, who played for the Virginia
Squires and the New York Nets. During Ervings tenure with the ABA, the
three-point shot and the slam dunk contest was invented. While researching his part for
the film, Benjamin called the basketball legend to get some pointers and to
make sure he was honoring his legacy.
I knew I had to represent an African-American player in the
ABA during that time, and I didnt want to buffoon it, Andre explains. Among
the game talk, Dr. J explained to Andre the magic of the ABA league and how it
expressed the uprising of the revolutionary time period. He told me that Afros
wasnt a style – it turned into a style. It was really about rebellion. Letting
your hair grow out was a way of saying to hell with it – and the bigger it
was, the more to hell with it you were.
Sitting in the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta dressed in a
white button-down shirt, blue corduroy pants (with black suspenders) and what
looks to be a knitted yellow and blue stripped tie, the multi-platinum star
admits that he isnt very athletic. But he feels this project is a refreshing
addition to his resume, giving him a chance to stretch his acting muscles and
showcase another side of his personality thats typically seen in his music
Being in a film or doing a record sometimes you play
characters. You look at the video Hey Ya – that was a character, but you go
home, he says. Im actually not like people see in the videos or in movies. I
did Idlewild and people were like, How
did you pull off being calm? I was like, Thats the easy part.
The talented thespian also finds it effortless to express
his creativity through different mediums. In addition to writing and producing
songs, having his face plastered on the big screen or overseeing the production
of his Cartoon Network show, Class of
3000, Benjamin says hes pursuing one love that has yet to catch fire.
Whats funny is that before all of this acting, music I
actually draw and I paint. After high school I would get letters from art
schools to come to their schools. I want to be able to do enough pieces that I
can travel around and show it in like a gallery.
But he does admit to a few mishaps, one being the song Land
of a Million Drums featured on the Scooby
Doo movie soundtrack. The other led to falling in love with Erykah Badu.
How I met the mother of my child I went to New York and my
manager had an idea that I should model. So I went to this studio and we got
these head shots, he says, laughing at himself. I was a model for two days. I
only did the head shots, I didnt get jobs or anything. And that night after I
took the pictures, my manager said, Some girl is performing at this club –
and it happened to be Erykah performing at a club.
But some things in life arent as serendipitous.
For the past four years, the bona fide innovator has been
waiting to play Jimi Hendrix in a biopic. He was originally approached by the
Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society, Dead
Presidents) and then hooked up with famed producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind, Inside Man), but has
hit a continuous roadblock with the famed guitarists estate. To be honest
with you, its the family, the Hendrix family. I think the [step] sister
[Janie] pretty much has all the rights to the songs, and until they release
songs, we wont be able to do it.
Until then, hes gearing up to debut his clothing line
Benjamin Bixby this Fall. The line, which is inspired by the look of football
players circa 1935 and designed by him, is much like Benjamin unique. He says
he traveled to China, Paris and Italy
to find the right fabric. The thing that I find special to me [is that] you
cant find it anywhere else, he says of the dapper collection, which will be
available in Barneys.
After quickly opening his brown leather bomber jacket and
showcasing the lining, much like Hustle Man on Martin, but more cool like Lenny on Good Times, he nods his head to himself as if to say mission
accomplished. Im always looking for stuff that makes me feel like an
Yaminah Ahmad is an
editor and freelance writer in Atlanta, Georgia.