Review Summary: The Renaissance is a nice back-to-the basics return for Q-Tip.
Hype can be most comparable to investing in stocks really, think about, you look into bands and find out which can be successful, and then you buy into the hype and see if your investment blossoms. You really have to do your homework, and even then unforsaken events might happen and might change your investment so you’ll have to pull out right away *cough* Guns N’ Roses *cough*. This situation looked like what was going to happen to Q-Tip’s Kamaal The Abstract
, but in an entirely different manner than the band I already mentioned. After the somewhat mainstream oriented Amplified
, Q-Tip wanted a record that showed his true musical abilities, not just catchy hooks and jumpy beats. His label, however, wouldn’t allow for such nonsense to happen, so they kept pushed Kamaal
back until they shelved the effort. Then Q-Tip would stay with the label and try again, and again, to make an album that satisfied both him and them. That never worked out, and eventually after six years of blood, sweat, and tears, The Renaissance
was finally released off of Universal Motown records. During that time, fans have been pulling out, as it seemed that he was just taking way too long to make the effort. But for those loyal fans that waited, is this album worth the wait we had? Absolutely, The Renaissance
is an excellent album, and possibly hip hop album of the year.
shows Q-Tip musically free and happy, something we didn’t see since his days with A Tribe Called Quest. The album starts out nicely with “Johnny Is Dead”, a grooving light hearted introduction to what the rest of the album has to offer: calm and jazzy hip hop. That’s really all this album, it tries to take you back to the good times when hip hop was more focused on making interesting music, and it sure does succeed. I’m sure everyone has heard “Getting Up” and came out a happy customer. What’s not to be happy about? “Getting Up” excellent piano-based groove created by the late J Dilla and it contains Q-Tip’s lyrics about his love for his girl. “WeFightWeLove” is still bassy and grooving, but it’s synthier and a bit poppier than most of the rest of the album, while “Dance on Glass” spends a minute without a beat, and then goes right into this sort of spacey sound guitar-effect riff that fits the song perfectly. “Life Is Better” features the soothing vocals of Norah Jones, and Q-Tip’s lyrics salute the MCs of hip hop from all generations (even Lil Wayne).
“Sent you a message, sent you an email
Hasty decisions we may still prevail
Both needed breaks, we both needed to bail”
From “Getting Up”
This brings me to the only problem of the album, Q-Tip’s flow. His rapping is still top notch, bringing up easy to understand subjects in a manageable and enjoyable fashion; he is still an excellent MC. But the big problem with the album is that Q-Tip’s flow sounds mechanical. It’s like he just rapped and then he made beats that just hit line for line, and word for word. This is a particular problem with “Getting Up”, where his flow seems to just consist of the same two lines pronounced in the same way, with the last word of the second line getting repeated once again. It’s not something that gets in the way of enjoying the album that much, but it can be a little bit of a nuisance.
… And all of that is Q-Tip’s new album The Renaissance
. It isn’t too different than anything from A Tribe Called Quest, but it is much different than his debut album, and ultimately what some may have expected from Q-Tip. Still, The Renaissance
is an excellent effort, only hindered by Q-Tip’s aging flow and some similar concepts. If you are a hip hop fan of any kind, not getting The Renaissance
would be like not getting the next Jay-Z record, it would be a travesty to have missing from your collection.