Posts Tagged ‘Q-Tip’

You might think I’d be the first to cynically smirk at the idea that one cannot be fully in-tune with the music he is listening to, until he finds himself nodding along in the environment in which the sound was actually produced. Well, I’m not.

A few weeks ago, on a return trip from Princeton University, I found myself strolling through the Penn Station neighborhood, bouncing along to the beginning of Amplified, Q-Tip’s dope solo album he co-produced with the late, great J Dilla. “Wait Up” had me carelessly jumping up and down 34th Street, feeling just as live as the City itself. Then “Higher” began and I realized that I was nodding to something new – I had never heard these songs in transition before, meaning I had never actually listened to Amplified as an album. It must have been a 75 degrees and sunny early autumn day – the best the North East has to offer, and nobody seemed to notice. Millions of people were sprinting every which way, running from the clock monster. And there I was, just dancing along with my oversized backpack, envious of nobody.

It was the perfect opportunity to finally hear Amplified in the manner it was meant to be understood. I felt the bounce of the city pervading my veins. I was milking NYC for it’s fresh inspiration – it’s unmatched stimulus, with nowhere to channel it but through my headphones. I moved and grooved passed the construction workers, policemen, hotel clerks, bikers, bankers, and the homeless, listening to songs of 15 years past. I was in this massive, lively city doing something different than everyone in sight. I was Q-Tip. I am Q-Tip.

Now, let me tell you, this project is amazing…I mean, obviously. It is Q-Tip and J Dilla. Have you ever heard of Beats, Rhymes & Life? Just subtract Phife and add a few years. Anyways, “N.T.” did things to my body that no lady could ever dream of doing unless she’s Erykah Badu. Just listen and you’ll understand. But let me tell you: it won’t be the same sitting at your dining room table as prancing around the Big Apple.

Busta gets me hyped!


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Copped my favorite album (on CD), Beats, Rhymes And Life today for $5 at a vinyl sale. Throwing this up in celebration. “Everybody do the hop!”

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This is sMiles’ find originally. I’m just sharing the video.

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I could feel my croaky voice fading last night. This morning I woke without one.

Losing your voice is interesting. For a short period of time you naturally become a listener – an enhanced observer. You can’t get lost in conversation, instead getting lost in over-analyzation.  You can’t talk over natural noise or speak your mind; you just drown in your own thoughts, for better or worse. It does, too, allow for some focused and perceptive musical examination.

Slumbering out of bed this late morning, I felt an urge to bump “? Vs. Scratch” from The Roots’ 1996 album Illadelph Halflife. I had never given the project a fair listen besides vibing to “One Shine” and “It Just Don’t Stop” every once in a while. We were lucky enough to have a buddy leave his terrific sound system at our apartment last night and, after the short beat played out, I let the ipod flip around through the album.

I think I listened to one of my favorite albums this morning. It’s so damn smooth and jazzy, but BUMPS at the same time. There are some ill features by Common and Tip that add to the fluid, groovy vibes of the record. Check out these jams and then all of them (good headphones or speakers are a must):

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This pick is Common Sense.  I’m finally moving away from NY and moving a bit west to Chicago, snagging hip hop’s smoothest MC.  Common has a velvety voice that pervades body and brain.  His reflective and poetic prose would work terrifically juxtaposed with both both Q-Tip and Nas‘ vibes. In fact, all three artists thought so too. I just found out yesterday that Q-Tip, Common, and Nas were rumored last year to be starting a super-group called The Standard. How about they just add DJ Premier and call it Partners In Rhyme.


Partners In Rhyme:
1. DJ Premier
2. Q-Tip
3. Nas
4. Common

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Well this song is perfect for 11:13 on a Saturday morning…or any other minute of the week.  Q-Tip just adding more legitimacy to the Partners In Rhyme Label.

I would not mind some more frequent Q-Tip releases, especially ones like this where he’s teaming up with old buddies…anything to bring me back to the 90’s.

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sMiles would love this find, but I hope he’s already heard it. I just found this track in the pits of Youtube, and don’t know why I haven’t stumbled across it earlier. Black Moon is a group from Brooklyn consisting of MCs 5ft, Buckshot and DJ Evil Dee of Da Beatminerz. This track is off of their second album, War Zone. Not that they couldn’t accomplish it on their own, but obviously Q-Tip breathes some smooth funk into a great track from just before the turn of the millennium. Just a fantastic track.

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He’s always feeling the beat. (From: “Find A Way)

This pick was a no-brainer. In fact, I almost picked Q-Tip as my number one overall pick. He’s a combo-guard – a multifaceted artist – a unique mind. There’s no doubt he’s one of the most talented and recognizable MC’s in “the triple h” (hip hop history). Add his imperceptible production skills and you’re looking at a supreme musician.

I can’t really explain it, but I’m positive that he and I have almost the exact same taste in music. When I listen to him, I frequently think: “that’s exactly how I would have enunciated that; that’s exactly how I would have flowed; this is the exact beat I would have made were I skilled.” Even in the way he hops around in music videos I get the sense that we feel music almost identically. The extent to which our dance moves are indistinguishable is impeccable. He creates the exact music I want to be created.

A Tribe Called Quest is my all time favorite musical group. They transcended hip hop in the early 90’s, and, in my opinion, brought some much needed lively, bouncy, dancey sounds to the genre. Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed’s ability to fuse old, tame samples with, especially in later albums, their own energetic environment is remarkable. Q-Tip, unlike far too many rap artists, brings vitality and personality to the mic, making the climate real and the listener feel. He doesn’t just pack a bunch of cool vocabulary into a rhythmic, rhyming structure; Tip tells a story, uses his voice as an instrument, and/or relays some poetry.

Longevity is in no way an issue for The Abstract. Tribe, like De La, improved their sound with time, with Tip collaborating with and learning from J Dilla as part of The Ummah. The two went on to co-produce (with Dilla doing the majority and Tip making slight additions to the final product) Q-Tip’s solo album Amplified in 1999. His skill not faded, his brain not tainted, Q-Tip spun and spat more jams, releasing the almost completely self-produced album The Renaissance in 2008. 

There is absolutely no way Q-Tip and DJ Premier wouldn’t build something masterful together on Partner’s In Rhyme. It’s a collboration I’ve always wanted to hear; I imagine the hypothetical duo would create something like a hipper version of what has spawned from Primo and AZ.

Take a listen to Tip’s style and prowess on this Midnight Marauders track.

And his solo production skills and continued rapping ability on this jam from The Renaissance:

He vibes just like me.

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While trying to become more well-versed on the classics, this track really struck somewhere deep inside me. Off of Mobb Deep‘s debut album The Infamous, which has so many quality cuts that I wish I could post them all. Listening to this album finally is giving me the same feeling as being able to open that one present the day before Christmas. If you don’t know about Mobb Deep, or at least if you have heard of them and have never heard this album or song, then I think I have a pleasant surprise for you.

Also, do I even need to address the fact that a collaborative production with Q-Tip is one of the greatest things ever? This instrumental is nothing short of divine.

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This is the smoothest song I’ve heard in the longest while. The loudest of shouts goes to Mister Cee, who’s Hot 97 Dilla Mix empowered me though one golden hour of my workday. The highlight, by and far, of the songs featured that I had not been familiar with, is “Got ‘Til It’s Gone”. This is a four way intersection of artists contributing to what I feel to be a shining example of American artistic collaboration. Joni Mitchell granted permission to Janet Jackson after requesting the use of her renowned song, “Big Yellow Taxi”, which was then sampled by GPOAT J Dilla and laid down in true Ummah neo-soul fashion.  Janet then shared the instrumental real estate with fellow vocalist of a different breed, Q-Tip. The recipe looks good on paper, but if you are simply reading this without listening for context, I envy you for the opportunity to listen to this song for the first time, and urge you to listen.

I will note, for further reading, that there was some controversy regarding credit given. I’m not really about the negativity so I’ll nutshell this to protect the vibe, if you can dig that. Essentially, the Ummah went uncredited initially until speaking up about the matter. The result was J Dilla’s “Revenge Remix”, which was his way of turning water into wine.

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