Thursday, November 06, 2008

Q-Tip, The Renaissance -- Review

You know what, I kinda hate Q-Tip, the guy who once fantasized about cold yanking the plug on R&B. Rappers, like point guards, age in dog years, and dude hasn't dropped an album since 1999's Amplified, a.k.a. the album that disillusioned me so badly that I moved to Korea. After dropping 3 classic, 1 good-not-great, and 1 "what the fuck happened?" albums with Tribe, Tip tried to go mainstream. And let's face it: hip-hop and crossing over into the mainstream from (arguably) the underground go together like a lit cigarette and a gas pump.

I suppose it worked, though, for a month or so; Amplified -- which might not even be the disc's title; trust me, I don't care enough to check -- went gold (I think), and "Vivrant Thing" got a lot of play around my parts, much to my chagrin; mostly because it's an annoying tune, but also because "vivrant" ain't no country I've ever heard of. Do they speak English in vivrant?

There was also the persistent rumor that Tribe was going to reform. Probably best they didn't. Name me one hip-hop duo or group that dropped an undeniable classic after breaking up and reuniting and I'll buy you a donut, mister.

And while Phife released the noteworthy The Ventilation in 2000, I have never craved a Q-Tip solo album. Tip has one of the most recognizable and easy-on-the-ears voices in hip-hop, but for me he always needed Phife's insulin to lower the blood sugar level of my listening ability. It was fine for him to have, like Phife, a song or two of his own on a Tribe album, but a whole album? You can't handle that shit on strong sober, man.

That's why I wasn't too disappointed when Tip's last solo effort, Kamaal the Abstract, was shelved years ago. But he's back, and if all the shit I've read on the Internet is true*, The Renaissance is a return to form.

I'll be the judge of that. (And the jury. And the executioner.)


Johnny is Dead

Sounds like vintage Tribe, or rather vintage tribe circa the Ummah. Which I can handle...until the overly loud and terribly conceived singing kicks in, that is. This song is like a bacon double cheeseburger on a urine-soaked bun. Tip raps like Alan Houston comes back, too. Plus the song's title is a Dead Zone-level alarm bell (my brother's name is Johnny, you see). Johnny, wear your seatbelt and prophylactics!

Won't Trade

A relationships-and-sports analogy. How high-concept! Maybe I'm getting too old for this shit, but when you try to update your style to match today's (poor) tastes, it rarely works. The old soul sample, a la Kanye West, keeps interrupting Tip's verses like my dog barking when I try to get busy with my girl. I have a feeling this is going to be one bad idea after another. Smiles and cries.

Gettin' Up

This better be about popping boners on the bus. (Sadly, it isn't.) Can a man, namely me, literally kill a song? I mean, if can be a hologram on CNN, anything is possible, right? This chorus is going to give me nightmares of the waking up to find out that the last two years of my life have been a dream and I'm still living with my ex-wife variety. And the scratching at the end is like wrapping bacon around a piece of dog turd and calling it an hors d'oeuvre. Also: Greg Nice wants credit for Tip ripping off his signature delivery.


Q-Tip thinks he can harmonize. I like being pleasantly surprised. I'm not. "Well the bell has rung because the time is here." Truer words...I don't even know why I'm bothering with this garbage. (If you thought to yourself, "Because you have nothing else to do with your time, Forbes," you're exactly right.) Shit, if I were a professional music cricket I'd probably stop listening right now and crib off of other reviews. That's how bad this shit is. Bad? Well, maybe not. Mediocre as fuck? Definitely -- which is worse. It's like Q-Tip came over to my apartment and started telling me anecdotes about the time his car broke down and he needed a new fan belt. (Yes, it's exactly like that.) I'd rather he shit on my television and anal rape my dog with my Wii remote, because then I would at least have something to tell others about and make Kmart cry. This album hates me.


You can go fuck yourself.

We Fight/We Love

I don't even have the will to spew vitriolic hyperbole all over this one, I really don't. The Miami Heat won today. Mario Chalmers recorded 9 steals. Nine!


If this song is good, I promise to not masturbate for a year.




Again with the interrupting soul samples. Barring those and the dumb-ass chorus, this could have been a good song. It's like the Kwame Brown of hip-hop songs. Halfway through, the beat switches up for the better. Has a spaghetti western feel to it, which is okay, and Tip actually stops being lazy-corny with the lyrics (make no mistake, though, there are some cringe-worthy dimes on this one, too).

Dance on Glass

There's a big difference between Midnight Marauders and muzack. The former being actually good, for one.

Life is Better

Norah Jones should stick to starring in shitty Wong Kar Wai movies. My life is definitely not better for having heard this POS. Two minutes in, Tip's verse actually begins, and he kills it. Really. It's just too bad that such a phenomenal love letter to the pioneers and hall-of-famers of hip-hop music is ensconced within such a fucking horrible song. Ironically, it does more to hurt the culture than help it.


I'm resisting the urge to stick two-pronged forks into each of my ears.


I can almost stomach this. Almost. "T.R.O.Y." it definitely isn't. Again, if you're going to dedicate a song/novel/film/basketball game (shame on you, 'Melo) to a passed loved one, at least make it good.


Comments: I'm shocked by how bad this is. It's boring like talking to a corpse, and, worst of all, it makes me feel like I'm interned at the Hip-Hop Home for the Elderly and Criminally Past Their Prime. I promise, the next time you read a review on this site, it won't be of a rapper or hip-hop group I used to dig when I was younger. Because all I'm doing is setting mice elf up for disappointment.

1/5 *_*

* How can it not be?

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