Artist of the Week: Q-Tip

Rapper/DJ/Producer

For those of you who may not know who Q-Tip is or what he has contributed to the world of music, this article will give you all the details. At first glance Q-Tip may seem like just another oldskool rapper, however there’s so much more to him as a musician, he is a founding member of one of the most influential hip-hop groups, A Tribe Called Quest and I will elaborate on the group later on.

Q-Tip is also a talented DJ/producer or what I would call a super-producer, a few examples include The Neptunes, Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Quincy Jones. They are artists that don’t just switch between genres or rapping/singing, they’ve influenced and/or invented a new sound, developing singers or rappers to create a distinctive artist and be the ones to credit for their world renowned success; giving us classic songs that will get played 25 or so years later and still outdo music of today. For Dr. Dre it was N.W.A, Eminem, Snoop dogg+ for Timbaland it was Aaliyah, Missy Elliot and for Quincy Jones it was Michael Jackson. For Q-Tip, he has been a huge influence on Kanye, the late J-Dilla and just few notable artists he has produced for include Solange, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Santigold, Kanye and more. He’s done so many collaborations he’s lost count, though some include Mark Ronson, Janet Jackson and The Fugees.

A Tribe Called Quest Q-Tip (Left) Phife (Centre) Ali Shaheed (Right)

Tip can be credited for the early sound behind the voices of A Tribe Called Quest, solely producing the entire first 3 albums; People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. Hip-Hop with a jazz/soul influence leaving them in a lane of their own. Tribe was founded alongside a childhood friend, Phife Dawg; a huge loss hip-hop saw in 2016 leaving behind an outstanding voice that will live on forever and it’s fair to say that Tribe wouldn’t be who they were without any of the members, they became a family of musicians and changed the sound of hip-hop for the better. Some of ATCQ’s biggest songs include Can I Kick it? Bonita Applebum, Scenario, Buggin’ Out and more. However, like some groups in the business, they had their differences and struggles which are detailed in the critically acclaimed documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest; which is well worth a watch.

Shortly after the breakdown of ATCQ 1998, Q-Tip released his solo debut album Amplified in 1999 on which he recorded a song with Korn, showcasing his open-mindedness for music. His atypical approach to hip-hop is what has caused him to stand out as well as his appreciation for other genres and flexibility, branching out from hip-hop and producing a more neo-soul orientated album with Kamaal The Abstract (2009) and The Renaissance (2008) on which he also sings. A few of my favourites include Even if it is so, Barely In Love, Shaka and Life is Better; a track he breaks down in the interview, demoing how he wanted Norah Jones to sing on it as well as the production process.

Watch an Interview with Q-Tip from 2013 at the Red Bull Academy, where you can receive a great in-depth view of who he is as a musician. He also goes into detail about his influences, how he started experimenting with production and the breakdown of his productions.

“We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service”

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