Album Preview: Q-Tip – ‘The Renaissance’

Although the young MCs keep sprouting up on the scene with catchy dances and addictive (often annoying) hooks, we respect the fact that some of the pioneers never lost their shine. Q-Tip, for one, has held his style, his swag, and his skills constant since he was one powerful part of A Tribe Called Quest. He drifted in and out of the shadows, got mixed responses on his first solo effort, but is back with a fresh sound.

His second solo album, The Renaissance, is set to drop on November 4th and promises a different feel than what his young peers are aiming for. He might have a solid rep, but there’s no lack of ambition; Q-Tip produced every single track on his own. The first single, “Gettin’ Up,” whips up a little taste of what the entire album embodies—scattered, yet relevant musings from the experienced MC, with a neo-soul twist. got a sneak peek at the bulk of the album and will get you up to speed with a little preview.

1. “Won’t Trade”

Hopefully, they’ll change the order around because this first track is hardly memorable. Complete with the clichéd, high-pitched retro sample, the only thing that solidifies it is a hint of that big band sound.

2. “Gettin’ Up”

Great choice for the first single since it’s a mid-tempo, feel-good type of jam with a classic beat. Enhanced by some turntable scratching, this one has a few round-the-way romantic type lines such as, “We like Martin with Coretta,” which could essentially just be about the love of real hip-hop.

3. “Offishal”

With an old school vibe, you might just feel like you’re back in the early ’90s. Q-Tip diffuses a healthy amount of confidence in his own rhymes on this track, but we’ll forgive him since he’s earned some bragging rights.

4. “Fight/Love” featuring Raphael Saadiq

This one’s strong in theory and on the speakers, though it’s mellowed out on that neo-soul tip compliments of Saadiq’s smooth stylings. A song about the trials and tribulations of a real life relationship, Q-Tip says, “She fights for love / That’s her campaign.”

5. “ManWomanBoogie” featuring Amanda Diva

This track has a spoken word type of feel laid onto the background of a little contemporary jazz. It’s something sexy you can groove to with your other half or on your own, light and a bit thoughtless.

6. “Move”

Q-Tip reignites the flow that made him famous on this track, light-hearted but still concise. It’s a feel-good joint that addresses his loyal fans and what gives him the drive to keep the fresh rhymes percolating; he says, “The listeners will always stand beside me.”

7. “Life is Betta” featuring Norah Jones

There’s gotta be at least one name-dropping track, and this is it. As a tribute to hip-hop and how he rediscovers its many facets constantly, Q-Tip shouts out many of the pioneers, pouring out a drink for those who passed on the legacy. Norah Jones takes it from Moët to Merlot with her hook, mellowing it out considerably.

8. “Believe” featuring D’Angelo

This one opens up with D’Angelo’s signature vocals, harmonizing almost seamlessly with the instrumentals, but ends up being overpowered by the beat. Again, Q-Tip ventures over to the neo-soul side, slowing his flow to a perfect combination of powerful lyrics and a sensual sound.

–Rajul Punjabi in New York