What James Blake And Andre 3000’s Where Is The Catch Lyrics Really Mean

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What James Blake And Andre 3000’s Where Is The Catch Lyrics Really Mean

On Friday, James Blake released his highly anticipated fourth album, Assume Form, which includes an increasingly rare collaboration with André 3000. The track, “Where’s the Catch?” is produced by Blake and includes an uneasy piano loop, a pulsing drum beat, and a chorus built on the titular idiom asking what could go wrong when everything seems too good to be true. “Where’s the catch / There must be, there must be a catch,” Blake wonders in the chorus.

Then comes André’s verse, which continues that line of thought:

All my pets are mystic

Keeps me in a cage

Aww my head is twisted

Keeps me spinning round for days

Exorcism pessimism has arise

There’s no reason really

Treason to myself so silly

So perfect so perfect

So why do I look for curtains

Uncertain but certainly false alarms alertin’

A burden in beautiful times

A garden snake

Won’t bite me but frightens me like I know I’m ate

Shrouded in metaphor, André brilliantly twists a series of idioms into his own personal and stratified meditation on mental health. As Blake interpreted André’s verse:

“I love the way he balances slight abstraction with this feeling of paranoia. The line ‘Like I know I’m eight, and I know I ain’t’—anxiety bringing you back to being a child, but knowing that you’re supposed to feel strong and stable because you’re an adult now. That’s just so beautifully put.”

André 3000 has long been vocal about his battles with anxiety and mental health. That’s what contributed to his retreat from music more than a decade ago after Outkast’s final proper studio album.

“I was diagnosed with this social thing. I didn’t notice it until I became an entertainer,” André told GQ in 2017. “I don’t know if it’s the shock of all kinds of people coming up to you or the expectations, but I got to this place where it was hard for me to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous … And it started to bleed over into my normal life. I’d just meet new people, and I would freak out or have to leave.”

André’s musical appearances have been few and far between in the 2000s. Besides a few sparse guest verses, a reluctant Outkast reunion tour, and a surprise Mother’s Day track last year—we’ve heard little in terms of music since social anxiety forced André to back away from public life.

Now, this song marks a meeting of two men who have often been willing to publicly discuss their own battles with mental health. Speaking at a panel about self harm at a symposium for the Performing Arts Medicine Association in 2018, Blake spoke about his own suicidal thoughts early in his career. “I was taken away from normal life essentially at an age where I was half-formed,” he said. “On the road your connection to other people becomes surface level. So if you were only in town for one day and someone asked you how you are, you go into the good stuff…which generally doesn’t involve how anxious you feel [or] how depressed you feel.”

“Where’s the Catch?” comes at a time when mental health has been a driving conversation in music—particularly hip-hop. While this song doesn’t attempt to provide any answers—how could it?—”Where’s the Catch?” does mark one of the most beautiful and thought provoking songs about mental health in this era of music. There’s also comfort in that. One hip-hop legend, and one of the most respected producers and musicians of the 2010s have the same battles as we do.

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