Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where in the World is Q-Tip's Second Solo Album?

By Evan Rytlewski
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Q-Tipís The Renaissance isnít quite rapís Chinese DemocracyóDr. Dreís Detox takes that dubious honoróbut itís pretty close.

After a quick start to his solo career with 1999ís Amplified, Q-Tip has struggled to release any music post Tribe Called Question, seeing two completed records shelved. Even The Renaissance has been pushed back several times, and despite the leak of radio singles and a few public performances here and there, the album still has no set release date.

A L.A. Times article on the rapper, however, affirms that the album does exist (at least in some form, probably not final) and shines some light on what Q-Tip has been up to for the past nine years.
Appropriately enough, Q-Tip's first commercially released album in nine years is titled "The Renaissance," signaling both a reclamation of the spotlight and a rebirth of the hip-hop cool he helped create. But don't call it a comeback. To hear him tell it, he never really went away. He simply recorded several albums' worth of music without releasing it, waiting for the right cultural tipping point to reemerge on the scene. "Where have I been?" Q-Tip asked. "Working. Between you and me, I was waiting for the time to be right."

Just weeks in front of A Tribe Called Quest reuniting to perform 10 dates on the nation's top-grossing hip-hop event, the Rock the Bells tour (which hits the Glen Helen Pavilion on Aug. 9), the rapper-producer allowed a visiting reporter to preview the album while riding shotgun on an SUV crawl around Manhattan.

The verdict: "The Renaissance" marks a return to form that rivals Q-Tip's best work on Tribe's beloved 1993 album, "Midnight Marauders." Featuring multi-platinum-selling singer Norah Jones (on her first hip-hop "collabo"), as well as neo-soul crooners D'Angelo and Raphael Saadiq, "The Renaissance" blends live instrumentation and samples. It encompasses summer jams and club bangers as well as introspective songs such as "We Fight, We Love" (contrasting the experiences of a young girl in a bad relationship with a young man fighting in Iraq) and succeeds -- despite an overwhelming burden of expectation -- as one of the most artistically whole CDs of the late '00s.

Moreover, "The Renaissance" sounds thoroughly modern for the simple fact that so many other artists are just now aping what Q-Tip did 20 years ago.
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