Thursday, January 11, 2007

Notes: Q-Tip - Kamaal The Abstract

This morning I woke up lethargic. And broke. So I felt what better way to cheer myself up than to listen to some music I've never heard before. Okay. That wasn't the thought I had but I guess my ADD was acting up and I didn't want to listen to the same 'ol same 'ol.

So first I was listening to The New Pornographers (Freudian slip?) but I grew tired of it, though it sounds promising. Wasn't in a very rockish mood I guess. Then I moved to Joy Denalene which I have only got through half of. But that was unsatisfying as well. So then I went to some obscure Pharoahe Monch and that was pleasing. But after I heard the two or three tracks I wanted again restlessness took over.

Lo and behold, little Q-Tip hiding among the P's and R's on that long ever-growing list. So I played it. And like....


It's a wakeup playlist all in itself. Now Q-Tip has gotten a bad rap. As the leader of the seminal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, I think he earned a title as one of the leaders of "true" hip-hop, always caling out the Vanilla Ice's and MC Hammer's for their bastardization of his love. But then he got his own Hype Williams video and made a play for stardom and I guess that rubbed everyone the wrong way. So then he drops this Kamaal The Abstract album that is so off base that is label shelves it and drops him.

And truly, I can understand the decision. From a business standpoint, Q-Tip is either the intermediary betweeen the underground and mainstream or that sensible pop rapper. "Abstract" is neither of these. For one, he sings a whole lot more on this album. The jazz elements are there like Tribe but guitars are just as prevalent. But this boy can jam. Q-Tip was never regarded as the most amazing rapper, but he always had something to say and he could move a song along which as I recall is what is required of an emcee. And he does it well. Sometimes he sharps or flats. Sometimes songs meander to places too far down the yellowbrick road. But man, you can tell he was just feeling a vibe. And he's jamming.

This album in the 70's on some obscure jazz label would be on artsy nerds' vinyl to-get lists. Sadly it was released at the turn of the millenium when the music industry has tightly painted lines that one must fit into. Q-Tip would never be a star off this type of material. I think he realized that when he called his old friend Busta Rhymes and got a Neptunes track. But for some reason I feel like this is the real Tip. An eccentric boy who with schizophrenic musical tastes that just wanted to create some stuff he would want to bump in his house. I mean if you look at what's he's done since Tribe ended it's not hard to understand this album. I mean he was nominated for a Grammy for his work with the Chemical Brothers. How many Tribe listeners also bump Chemical Brothers? Backpacks and glowsticks don't really mesh well together.

So Q-Tip kudos. To all the people who want artists to stay to the initial bluepint, please shut up. If we stay doing the same thing, all that results is stagnation and I personally don't like algae all too much.

Tracks to bump: Do U Dig U?; Blue Girl

No comments: