The word on Q-Tip's new album, The Renaissance, has been nothing short of wondrous. Folks are rightfully calling it "clean," "fluid" and "refreshing." Tip's heard some of the same clamor. But the Queens native has been in the game since '88; he's not swayed much by the hype anymore.
"I guess people dig it," says the 38-year-old MC. "I mean, so far, judging from people's reaction to it, it's been pretty good. I haven't really been that cognizant of reviews and all that stuff. People come up to me and say they like it. But if you're asking me about reviews, I would imagine you would know better than I would."
Perhaps. But the Abstract Poetic himself would best know what it is progressive hip-hop fans hope to hear nowadays. As a member of A Tribe Called Quest, arguably the most artistic rap group of the '90s, Q-Tip helped make it cool for young Americans, black and white, to "celebrate their individuality, [not] bite their tongues, and try to be solution-oriented." While other hip-hop acts stomped about in hoodies and scary scowls, ATCQ rocked kufis while shouting out jazz man Ron Carter.
Consider The Renaissance proof that Q-Tip is back on his forward-thinking grind. Of course, the latest CD isn't the first time he's tried to offer diversity to stereo speakers. Amplified, the '99 release buoyed by the hit "Vivrant Thing," was followed by three shelved projects, causing the 'Net to speculate whether the former Tribe member had lost it. But it was the labels that were buggin' out (recall "Industry rule No. 4,080"), not Q-Tip.
"I'm an artist," he says, sounding almost empowered by the virtual naysayers. "I love what I do. The passion that goes into what I do keeps me invested. I don't really pay too much [attention] to the business. I just focus on the work."
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