Review Summary: Why is Korn on this album? Why is the guy on the front acting like that one guy from A Tribe Called Quest? Oh wait, it is that guy.
With Amplified blasting in my ears, I’m wondering if Soulja Boy was really somewhat Tribe-influenced after all. When I first heard that silly kid on the radio, I was ridiculously annoyed with his annoying antics and stupid dance, but eventually I decided to hear Q-Tip’s dance-oriented record Amplified and compare it to this Soulja Boy character, and fundamentally, they aren’t really that different records.
For example, Q-Tip, although still flows over a beat like a professional, raps about stuff that would apply the regular women in a club. Q-Tip has an addiction to movements, whether it’s a women’s butt, the rattling of another MC’s mic being taken away, or the movement from his former philosophical and thinking self to this new ridiculous self. Occasionally, it’s also noticed that Q-Tip cusses a lot more on this record, possibly in an attempt to gain himself a new audience and separate himself from Tribe. “Wait Up” and “Higher” shows Q attempting to show dominance over other MC’s, but in an attempt to perfect his flow, some of it sounds ridiculous, like the claim on “Wait Up” that Kamaal “once smoked hash right out a hippies bong”, which sounds like a laughable attempt at bragging and being better than his peers.
Another truth in the Soulja Boy and Amplified comparison comes in the form of the production. Most of the production is completely un-Tribe-like of Q, although a lot of is produced by the Late great J Dilla. “Breath & Stop” and “Vivrant Thing” sound bassy and bouncy, ready to get the club jumping, especially anthemic club banging nature of “Breath & Stop” which was bound to influence fellow bass-rapists of the future rap industry. Other instances have production that sounds like it was specifically produced for the more zanier flows of Busta Rhymes, but considering he was busy with slightly better beats, he got sent these rejects, like the cool sample/sound effect-ridden “Let’s Ride” which sounds like a more active and diverse at the moment lyricist could rip it to pieces.
How does this all come together you ask, and does it quality-wise compare to the young Soulja Boy? Well, unlike the rookieisms of Soulja Boy and his FL-ridden low budget dances, Q-Tip manages to perfect the art of meaningless dance rap to a T. Despite tracks that have Q-Tip trying to be like his more MC killin’ focused partner in crime Phife like “Wait Up” and “Higher”, Amplified is one of the more solid rap albums out there despite its lack of content. “N.T.” features once again another case of the perfect contrast between the excited somewhat-sloppy delivery of Busta Rhymes in the chorus and the calm but perfected flow of Kamaal in the verses, while other tracks like dramatic and more Tribe-like “Things U Do”, or the wonderful mesh of dance rap and boom bap “Do It”, Q-Tip manages to make an album with all kinds of different tracks fit together in one whole piece.
Amplified might anger listeners the first time it is heard, but once you get over this is more a dance-oriented effort than anything Tribe could offer, then you just might shake your ass off to it, no matter what gender you are. Other than the horrifically dull Korn-led (I know, I was confused too) eight minute droner “End of Time” and the non-beat that automatically ruins “Go Hard”, Amplified is a rather solid album. Nothing about it is great, but there is no problem listening to one of the best albums to slap dem tits to. Next time you cross a Nelly album at an album shop, just skip a few letters and safely move to the Q’s and pick up this for size.