Modern hiphop and R&B music can both arguably be divided into pre and postA Tribe Called Quest, and the musical efforts of its lead MC and producer Kamaal Ibn John Fareedbetter known to the world as QTip. Consider the jazzy sampling, laidback tempos and bohochic vibe he introduced, then mull over the bohemian posturing and sounds of the neosoul movement, plus any rap music that shies away from hardcore posturing. All roads lead back to ATCQ and the beats, rhymes and life of one man: QTip. And now the time is ripe for The Renaissance, the Abstract MCs first solo album in nine years.
Back when rap production was all about James Brown samples and dense, agitated sonic collages, QTip was digging deeper into the record crates for snatches of standup bass and obscure jazz. The influence of that first sonic renaissance is still being heard. I see the Tribe legacy as one of the strongest in modern music, QTip admits. From us came so many artists, like Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, the Fugees and Kanye West. I feel very honored to have been able to contribute in such a way that, 20 years later, it still is a reference point. Produced primarily by QTip with plenty of live instrumentation and a love fixation, The Renaissance is a stark portrait of the artist as an elder statesman.
One listen to the frenetic drumming and strutting live bassline of a track like ManWomanBoogie reveals that QTip is on a mission to create original music as timeless as the tracks he used to sample once upon a time. Its also obvious that the title of his latest album is no accident. The Renaissance is significant because for some time now people have questioned the integrity of hiphop, he reveals. I feel like the time is ideal for something that has a revisionist spirit to it.
Taking the same type of nonconformist risks as Stevie Wonder, John Lennon and the mavericks of other music genres, QTip has always gone left when it comes to his position in hiphop culture. Peoples Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, the 1990 debut of A Tribe Called Quest, introduced QTips iconoclast stance. The 20yearold emceed about vegetarianism, French expatriates and domestic violence at a time when (then as now) other more standard rappers topics were marching lockstep in comparison. Yet he always made absolutely sure to charm the Bonita Applebums and practice the art of moving butts. The Renaissance goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
On Life Is Better, singer Norah Jones helps QTip give a unique spin on the hiphop love song: a love of hiphop itself, that is. The state of hiphop is in conception now, he says, discussing the regeneration and renaissance of the culture. Something else is happening to it and theres a new approach, a rebirth thats going on. One of the many cool things about the digital world is that it has grown the appetite for good music. Now people can find an obscure Beatles song or an EPMD remix online, so everyone is becoming more hip. QTips love of hiphop only rivals his love for the opposite sex, an adoration thats clear and evident on tracks like Believe featuring DAngelo, or The Renaissances first single, Gettin Up: I like to watch everybody gravitate towards you/Your magnetic presences make them come through/The same way you got them, you got me too.
Love talk is all around The Renaissance, but QTip remains as characteristically diverse as ever. Fight/Love with Raphael Saadiq, for example, alludes to the everpresent realities of the Iraq War. The sole track handled by a producer other than QTip himself is Move, a hyperkinetic pastiche of dicedup Jackson 5s Dancing Machine courtesy of the late, great J. Dilla. A Tribe Called Quest is no more, says QTip, putting a cap on rumors sparked by their recent reunion shows on the recent Rock the Bells Tour. Yet hardcore fans will still recall J. Dillas participation in The Ummah, the production team (also including QTip and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad) that handled full chores on the final two ATCQ albums. Move comes closest to reviving the headnodding kick of A Tribe Called Quest, a fitting testament to the funky skills of James J. Dilla Yancey.
QTip is in his own extremely capable hands for the remainder of The Renaissance. Long known as a grand talent behind recordingstudio mixing boards, QTip has blessed a number of diverse artists with beats throughout his 20year career: Nas, Mariah Carey, Mobb Deep, Whitney Houston. Since his start on the Jungle Brothers 1988 Black Is Black, music fans have waited on solo QTip in one form or another. His 1999 Amplified debut albumproduced largely by J. Dilla and featuring the careerdefining hippop hits Vivrant Thing and Breathe and Stopstill left many wondering how QTip would sound without commercial constraints. His nineyear time delay (Kamaal the Abstract was recorded but went unreleased in the interim) may bring to mind other missinginaction masters of the hiphop craft, but QTip insists its all good. There hasnt been a delay, he says, and I think I can speak for myself, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and DAngelo when I say that we make music when the spirit is with us. We are a lot who are very observant as well as introspective. We paint intense, colorful pictures, so it takes time.
Some of that time has been spent chasing the acting jones QTip established locking lips with Janet Jackson in director John Singletons 1993 Poetic Justice. In films like Disappearing Acts (2000), Prison Song (2001) and Spike Lees She Hate Me (2004), QTip expresses another side of his renaissanceman persona, holding his own against actors like Sanaa Lathan and Anthony Mackie.
When I recorded my first album, I was 19, QTip says. So I was very much in the moment and did not think about my career past the following year. I knew I loved what I did and had big fun, but I never imagined this. The Renaissance marks the return of one of the most recognizable voices and individualist figures in all of hiphop. At this moment for change in the hiphop nation and the nation at large, The Renaissance could not have come at a more appropriate moment. Leave it to QTip to be right on time.
Source: Artist Site