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The Autumn of André 3000

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Benjamin in Four Brothers.  

“I grew up in the eighties, and I guess you could say we were all Polo kids; we always tried to imitate that style. Then I read his life story: He was just like me, from the slums, and he worked at summer camps watching all the rich kids, but he had an appreciation for a certain sense of style. He worked his way up pioneering his way in fashion.”

Benjamin adds that at some point he’d like to start his own fashion line, then stops and heaves a sigh, acknowledging that he would be pursuing the only alternative career path for a rapper that’s more clichéd than acting. “But I wouldn’t be trying to make a lot of money like Sean John [Sean Combs’s line] or Rocawear [Jay-Z’s]. I would just try to bring a love of clothes.”

“My job is twice as hard as Robert De Niro’s. I have to convince people that I’m not the guy dancing around in a green outfit.”

He admits that he did the sagging-jeans-and-20-XL style in high school, but claims that now, at 30, he wants to try something new. He designs many of the outfits he’s worn in his videos, but he would like to offer a lower-key approach. “I’m still trying to show people I’m not all about white wigs.”

That seems to be the primary project in every aspect of Benjamin’s life: gently nudging André 3000 into the shadows. The alter ego, he’s found, is not as easily shed as the white wigs or the argyle socks. But it’s an act that even he has had enough of, at least for now. “I really want to get to a point,” he says, “where what I’m playing is so tight that I don’t even recognize myself.”


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