Ah, what a pleasure. What a joy to be able to say that The Renaissance not only lives up to the hope and expectation preceding it, it also establishes Q-Tip as a relevant hip-hop icon once again. In the process, it manages to exorcise the demons of two unreleased albums of quality material.
This is Q-Tip in 2008: still hungry to rhyme on a funky beat, still searching for alternatives to the bling hip-hop mainstream and still sounding fresh. His love for soul and jazz are all over it: the grooves bump and Tip’s silky rhymes coupled with his trademark nasal inflections are present and correct. He sings occasionally too. Much of The Renaissance was produced with the aid of an MPC sampler and the resultant songs are built on funky loops which sound like they’re played by a live band.
-Official’ is laid back neo-soul rap at its best; -ManWomanBoogie’ is a funky bassline number and the Motown horn-driven -Move’ is damn near the best hip-hop tune made this year, not bad considering it was produced by hip-hop’s best producer, J Dilla, now sadly deceased (and the subject of another highlight -Shaka’). Norah Jones contributes a lovely hook to the lilt of -Life is Better’, while D’Angelo makes a rare appearance on -Believe’.
Sometimes it’s so smooth, you might not notice you are suddenly on track fi ve but fluidity is its strong point and contributes to The Renaissance‘s sumptuousness. Welcome back, Tip. It’s been too long.