Volume 93, Issue 58

Thursday, January 13, 2000


Picks and pans from the Hollywood holiday season

Skyfish a homegrown hybrid

Out of courtesy for the person next to you...

New Q-Tip solo album keeps ears happy

New Q-Tip solo album keeps ears happy


Fans of legendary hip-hop/R&B fusion innovators A Tribe Called Quest will undoubtedly be familiar with the group's frontman, Q-Tip. Those unfamiliar with Tribe's resonant works will be hard-pressed to connect the rapper to anything else. Aside from a few appearances on singles by Janet Jackson and ex-Tony Toni Toné vocalist Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip has remained relatively quiet over the last few months, but has finally resurfaced with the long-awaited solo debut, Amplified.

Tribe fans will be somewhat disappointed to find this is not the same socially minded Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. Rather, this is a more surreal MC, one who hangs out in the company of the Leonardo DiCaprios and Ol' Dirty Bastards of the world. His rhymes are not inspiring or filled with emotion, but bespeak common subjects of the genre like money, women and possessions. Luckily, his style is more addictive than M&M's, so it's a sin that's easily forgivable.

The album's first single, "Vivrant Thing," is a fast-paced auditory thrill ride, with a hard driving synth beat punctuated by simple percussion swatches and Q-Tip's unique vocalizations. For the non-Tribe fans out there, it's impossible to accurately depict what he sounds like – his langorous tenor voice leisurely weaving in a staccato amidst the beats is something which has to be heard to be believed. Throw Elmer Fudd, Blues Traveler's John Popper and rap legend Rakim into a blender and Q-Tip is the result.

Other highlights include "Breathe and Stop," which sounds phenomenal despite having more silent pauses than a Hemingway novel and "N.T.," which fuses Busta Rhymes' frenetic style with Q-Tip's laid-back approach to predictably successful results.

However, Q-Tip's choice of collaborators is not always so stellar. "End of Time," featuring flash-in-the-pan sport metal rockers Korn is a complete travesty of everything Tribe's members hold dear. Loud, instrumentally jarring and a vocal nightmare, "End" is one of those tracks which listeners should have the good sense to avoid for the rest of their days.

All in all, Amplified is a solid solo effort and should be successful enough to dash any hopes of an imminent Tribe reunion. Q-Tip seems to enjoy a spotlight undiffused by other members and though many may not agree with his reasoning to go solo, few can argue with the result.

–Luke Rundle

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