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Monday, January 05, 2009

Album Review: The Renaissance by Q-Tip

the renaissance by qtip album cover

In November 2006 rapper Nas released the track heard round the world, when he boldly declared "Hip Hop is Dead". This caused all sorts of controversy and response from other rappers feeling they were keeping it alive. The Nas song made a strong case though; much of what's given to hip-hop fans these days is simply dance themes and ringtone singles which are catchy one-hit wonder material. That watered down formula never has much staying power, and its what makes albums full of true lyrical innovation worth so much more.

Case in point, Q-Tip's The Renaissance which comes nearly 2 years after Nas made his statement track to declare hip hop deceased. The Renaissance typically refers to history and a revival of the times. On The Renaissance album the frontman from the legendary A Tribe Called Quest brings forth another solo effort which is pleasing audibly from start to finish. In this effort, Tip is returning to the mic for a full studio album 9 years after his debut solo. Tip's always been considered a lyrical purist and genius since his days in Tribe, and he brings more of that style his fans love here. The beats are reminicesent of Tribe's works as well and it's hard to find much wrong with this offering compared to the rest of today's rap genre.

Standout tracks are easily the feel-good and mellow "Gettin Up", an ode Q-Tip raps to his lover. The classic Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" is sampled for the upbeat and catchy "Move" which borrows a "Here we go" chant from the classic "The Choice is Yours" by Black Sheep. As Move ends it blends into a hidden bonus track "The Renaissance", equally poignant and catchy. "Dance on Glass" features a minute of pure acapella lyrics and then a beat to accompany them. "Won't Trade" features clever voice overs from news reports of trade rumors in New York as well as a soulful sampled chorus over the bouncy melody. Tip also chose his guest stars sparingly, using Norah Jones, Rafael Saadiq and D'Angelo to punctuate his flow. No other rappers appear on the tracks and that's just fine as Tip holds his own here. At times fans of ATCQ may long for a reunion though, but even without his bandmates this is surely a pleasing release. Another feature of the album which generally works well for classic material: more music, less filler. On this album skits are non-existant and the music rolls on making it an album that will stay in rotation in many car stereos, ipods and mp3 players.

With The Renaissance Q-Tip arguably brings the #1 rap release of the year, ranking right up there with Lil Wayne's highly-anticipated & well-received "Tha Carter III". It's one of those feel good rap albums, a return to what hip-hop's always been about in its truest form. All that's really missing here is Tip's band members Fife and Ali, but at this point true hip hop fans won't complain about what Q-Tip brings to rap music on his own.

Tracklist: The Renaissance by Q-Tip

1. "Johnny Is Dead" 3:02
2. "Won't Trade" 2:41
3. "Gettin' Up" 3:18
4. "Official" 3:19
5. "You" 3:02
6. "We Fight/We Love" (feat. Raphael Saadiq) 4:47
7. "Manwomanboogie" (feat. Amanda Diva) 3:06
8. "Move" 5:49
9. "Dance on Glass" 3:02
10. "Life Is Better" (feat. Norah Jones) 4:41
11. "Believe" (feat. D'Angelo) 2:57
12. "Shaka" 3:33
13. "Feva (UK & Circuit City Bonus)" 3:48

Download The Renaissance MP3 Album at

Rap Music Lyrics - Gettin' Up by Q-Tip

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