Reclusive is an adjective that gets used a lot when it comes to André Benjamin, best known as André 3000 of “Hey Ya!” duo OutKast– and he admits that it’s accurate. But now he’s letting himself be seen again, touring with OutKast and playing Jimi Hendrix in the new biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side (Sept. 26, limited).
Revisiting the ’60s to play Hendrix required drawing on history rather than imagination. Still, the work wasn’t too different from revisiting the ’90s and ’00s to tour again as André 3000, a fiction who remains more recognizable than his creator.
When he’s not in character, Benjamin is looking to the future. Touring with OutKast is fun, but it’s not where his focus is. “I still am a fan of the music, but it’s kind of like it’s not the wonder years of it,” he says. Though he’s careful not to compare himself to Michael Jordan, returning to that music is like Jordan playing celeb hoops, he says. Shoot a few and then go home.
Benjamin, 39, has reached a stage Hendrix never did: looking for the next step. For all his reclusiveness, he’s still in search of further artistic outlets. “I think,” he says, “you just have to figure out what’s your grown-man dream.”
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This appears in the October 06, 2014 issue of TIME.