Album Review: Q-Tip – The Renaissance

6 11 2008

A Tribe Called Quest front man Q-Tip, is back with his second solo LP The Renaissance. In the 90’s, the hip hop audience loved Tribe’s jazzy style of rap music. While hip hop continues to change musically, will Q-Tip be able to revive the art with The Renaissance?


It’s been almost 20 years since Q-Tip has been an active MC starting out with the legendary A Tribe Called Quest. After five albums over the course of eight years, Tip leftPhife and Ali Shaheed Muhammad to drop his debut album Amplified. With “Vivrant Thing” and “Breathe and Stop” serving as lead singles for the album, it made Q-tip the most successful solo artist of A Tribe Called Quest. After the release of Amplified, Q-Tip stayed out the limelight appearing on various underground projects.
Q-Tip returns with his breakthrough LP The Renaissance. While Tip’s first solo album had a huge commercial single, The Renaissance took a different approach. The albums lead single “Gettin’ Up” is a smooth, piano sampled track sounding opposite of Q-Tip’s older singles.
Another difference from Q-Tip’s previous album is that it features only one J Dilla track while the last was produced almost thoroughly by the late great producer. The Renaissance’s soulful funky production was handled by Q-Tip himself. The one Dilla contribution “Move”, is the albums most commerical track. Tip kicks off his verse with “I’m just a brother man, descendant of the motherland; I fuck with blackberries, dymes and butter tans” as he raps over a funky Dilla instrumental, which samples “Dancing Machine” by the Jackson 5.
During the middle of the album Q-Tip addresses troubled relationships. On “You” rhymes about confrontational women and how the end result is typically their fault. Similar to “You”, “Fight/Love” discusses conflict in relationships, and features a hook by the soulful RaphaelSaadiq. The mellow beat, Q-tip’s relaxed flow, and Saadiq singing on the hook compliment the track extremely well, making “Fight/Love” one of the best tracks off the album. As most rap veterans do, Q-Tip has track addressing the current state of hip hop. “Dance on Glass” starts off as anacapella track, but the beat comes in with a DJ Premier-esque type sound.
Overall The Renaissance has a soulful vibe. Based off the features alone you can perceive the type of feel the album will have. The album features no rap appearances, but features RaphaelSaadiq, Norah Jones, Amanda Diva, and D’Angelo who appears on the motivational “Believe”. “Believe” contributes to the albums great closure, but the final track “Shaka” tops it off. “Shaka” is an ode to Q-Tip’s younger bro, where Tip spits “My brother Shaka would’ve wanted me to do it like this…so raise your glasses for the loved ones in your life”; over a beat with production style similar to A Tribe Called Quest’s “God Lives Through”.
My closing statement is that Q-Tip proves his relevance thus having almost 20 years in the game. While some artists fail to stay relevant after longevity, Q-Tip delivers with an outstanding album. Aside from the lyricism and flow, the production off The Renaissance is reminiscent to the signature A Tribe Called Quest sound, and at some points you find yourself anticipating a verse from Phife. This album will definitely be enjoyed by ATCQ fans like myself, and will also appeal to new listeners.

To Sum It Up In One Word: Funkdafied



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