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The Renaissance

4.8 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Product Description

2008 album from the former A Tribe Called Quest rapper, his first solo album in nine years. Produced primarily by Q-Tip with plenty of live instrumentation and a love fixation, The Renaissance is a stark portrait of the artist as an elder statesman. One listen to the frenetic drumming and strutting live bassline of a track like 'ManWomanBoogie' reveals that Q-Tip is on a mission to create original music as timeless as the tracks he used to sample once upon a time. The Renaissance marks the return of one of the most recognizable voices in all of Hip Hop.

About the Artist

Modern hip-hop and R&B music can both arguably be divided into pre- and post-A Tribe Called Quest, and the musical efforts of its lead MC and producer Kamaal Ibn John Fareed--better known to the world as Q-Tip. Consider the jazzy sampling, laid-back tempos and boho-chic vibe he introduced, then mull over the bohemian posturing and sounds of the neo-soul movement, plus any rap music that shies away from hardcore posturing. All roads lead back to ATCQ and the beats, rhymes and life of one man: Q-Tip. And now the time is ripe for The Renaissance, the Abstract MC's first solo album in nine years.

Back when rap production was all about James Brown samples and dense, agitated sonic collages, Q-Tip was digging deeper into the record crates for snatches of stand-up bass and obscure jazz. The influence of that first sonic renaissance is still being heard. "I see the Tribe legacy as one of the strongest in modern music," Q-Tip admits. "From us came so many artists, like Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, the Fugees and Kanye West. I feel very honored to have been able to contribute in such a way that, 20 years later, it still is a reference point." Produced primarily by Q-Tip with plenty of live instrumentation and a love fixation, The Renaissance is a stark portrait of the artist as an elder statesman. One listen to the frenetic drumming and strutting live bassline of a track like "ManWomanBoogie" reveals that Q-Tip is on a mission to create original music as timeless as the tracks he used to sample once upon a time. It's also obvious that the title of his latest album is no accident. "The Renaissance is significant because for some time now people have questioned the integrity of hip-hop," he reveals. "I feel like the time is ideal for something that has a revisionist spirit to it." Taking the same type of nonconformist risks as Stevie Wonder, John Lennon and the mavericks of other music genres, Q-Tip has always gone left when it comes to his position in hip-hop culture. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, the 1990 debut of A Tribe Called Quest, introduced Q-Tip's iconoclast stance. The 20-year-old emceed about vegetarianism, French expatriates and domestic violence at a time when (then as now) other more standard rappers' topics were marching lockstep in comparison. Yet he always made absolutely sure to charm the Bonita Applebums and practice the art of moving butts. The Renaissance goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. On "Life Is Better," singer Norah Jones helps Q-Tip give a unique spin on the hip-hop love song: a love of hip-hop itself, that is. "The state of hip-hop is in conception now," he says, discussing the regeneration and renaissance of the culture. "Something else is happening to it and there's a new approach, a rebirth that's going on. One of the many cool things about the digital world is that it has grown the appetite for good music. Now people can find an obscure Beatles song or an EPMD remix online, so everyone is becoming more hip." Q-Tip's love of hip-hop only rivals his love for the opposite sex, an adoration that's clear and evident on tracks like "Believe" featuring D'Angelo, or The Renaissance's first single, "Gettin' Up": "I like to watch everybody gravitate towards you/Your magnetic presences make them come through/The same way you got them, you got me too." Love talk is all around The Renaissance, but Q-Tip remains as characteristically diverse as ever. "Fight/Love" with Raphael Saadiq, for example, alludes to the ever-present realities of the Iraq War. The sole track handled by a producer other than Q-Tip himself is "Move," a hyper-kinetic pastiche of diced-up Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" courtesy of the late, great J. Dilla. "A Tribe Called Quest is no more," says Q-Tip, putting a cap on rumors sparked by their recent reunion shows on the recent Rock the Bells Tour. Yet hardcore fans will still recall J. Dilla's participation in The Ummah, the production team (also including Q-Tip and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad) that handled full chores on the final two ATCQ albums. "Move" comes closest to reviving the head-nodding kick of A Tribe Called Quest, a fitting testament to the funky skills of James "J. Dilla" Yancey. Q-Tip is in his own extremely capable hands for the remainder of The Renaissance. Long known as a grand talent behind recording-studio mixing boards, Q-Tip has blessed a number of diverse artists with beats throughout his 20-year career: Nas, Mariah Carey, Mobb Deep, Whitney Houston. Since his start on the Jungle Brothers' 1988 "Black Is Black," music fans have waited on solo Q-Tip in one form or another. His 1999 Amplified debut album--produced largely by J. Dilla and featuring the career-defining hip-pop hits "Vivrant Thing" and "Breathe and Stop"--still left many wondering how Q-Tip would sound without commercial constraints. His nine-year time delay (Kamaal the Abstract was recorded but went unreleased in the interim) may bring to mind other missing-in-action masters of the hip-hop craft, but Q-Tip insists it's all good. "There hasn't been a delay," he says, "and I think I can speak for myself, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and D'Angelo when I say that we make music when the spirit is with us. We are a lot who are very observant as well as introspective. We paint intense, colorful pictures, so it takes time." Some of that time has been spent chasing the acting jones Q-Tip established locking lips with Janet Jackson in director John Singleton's 1993 Poetic Justice. In films like Disappearing Acts (2000), Prison Song (2001) and Spike Lee's She Hate Me (2004), Q-Tip expresses another side of his renaissance-man persona, holding his own against actors like Sanaa Lathan and Anthony Mackie. "When I recorded my first album, I was 19," Q-Tip says. "So I was very much in the moment and did not think about my career past the following year. I knew I loved what I did and had big fun, but I never imagined this." The Renaissance marks the return of one of the most recognizable voices and individualist figures in all of hip-hop. At this moment for change in the hip-hop nation and the nation at large, The Renaissance could not have come at a more appropriate moment. Leave it to Q-Tip to be right on time.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 4, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Motown
  • ASIN: B001GRTPKC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,169 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gregory K. Davis on November 5, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I have been listening to hiphop for about 25 years now (I'm 33 now) and I have been enjoying it less and less as they years go by. There use to be a time when most hiphop releases were strong, start to finish, of course there would be 1-3 tracks that could be left off...but mostly you could listen to them,be totally satisfied and the re-play value was damn good.

Then (and this is my opinion) around the time tupac and biggie passed you could see hiphop drastically changing...and not really for it's own good. It seemed people began looking for that one big single to drive the sale of their releases...now while that isn't really new, but the rest of the albums/CD's started suffering big time as a result. Yeah, you had massive first week sales because of the "hot single" but the replay value of the release started dropping big-time and you could see where hiphop was headed, right where it now resides - a disposable artform, relagated to be a ringtone for somebody's cellphone/iphone/blackberry etc.

Again, I know they'll be some cats (especially youngin's) that will blast me or ridicule me for my opinion...oh well, I guess that's apart of the risk when you put your thoughts out there for everyone to see and crtique.

Anyway, I have been waiting for a release (it didn't matter whom really) that I could listen to over and over, where it felt...timeless, classic, the bomb etc.(LOL) or whatever you wish to call it. Outkast's Aquemini(1998), Dr.
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Format: Audio CD
Q-Tip's solo career reads like a bad joke. As A Tribe Called Quest's frontman, he led the alternative hip hop movement and helped establish hip hop as a literate and creative art form during the 90s. After the Native Tongues moved on and ATCQ disbanded, Tip released his solo debut Amplified in 1999 and looked forward to a career of production and performing as his abstract genius and legend would warrant. And after ten years, at least three inexplicably shelved LPs (most notably "Kamaal the Abstract," which got as far as promo pressings), and countless record labels, Tip's long awaited follow-up "The Renaissance" arrived almost silently. Release delays date back years, and since rumors of "The Renaissance" have floated for so long, the quick and quiet release seems odd, especially given his huge fanbase and genre-defying appeal.

At 43 minutes and twelve tracks, it's a concise and focused listen and is immediately enjoyable. While it emits a spirit somewhat comparable to a Tribe recording and shows a hint of the smooth Soulquarians vibe of the late-90s, I'd say it's most similar to Amplified. However, Amplified's most frequent criticism is that it is too forced and pop-oriented, and "The Renaissance" does not have that problem. The music is comparably playful, upbeat, and bouncy, but is less poppy and more mature and soulful than its predecessor. The production, mostly piano-based, is layered with a range of artistic instrumentation that sounds classy despite its fun and appealing nature.
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Format: Audio CD
Coming into this album, I thought we were going to see a repeat of Amplified, a few good songs that were radio worthy, but nowhere near as indightful as Tip's words with Tribe. I couldn't have been more wrong.The Renaissance from the opening track shows why many revere Q-Tip as a founding father of conscience hip-hop. Though not as buzzworthy as Amplified, Renaissance shows a side of Tip we have not seen since the days of Midnight Marauders. The mellow beats, heavy in rhodes and keyboards delivers the same vibe as the Ummah production that constructed Beats, Rhymes and Life. I would highly recommend this album, with notable songs being "Johhny Is Dead", Offical", "You", and "Believe". If you nodded your head to any Tribe albums, then NOT getting The Renaissance would be a flat out disaster
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Format: Audio CD
First of all, I kinda got beef with Tip cuz it took him damn near A DECADE to drop this album! I can't belive 'Amplified' came out in .....1999.
1999! Dear God, I was still....young! (Ahhh man, Im fuccin old lol) But it's cool because 'Amplified' sounded so fresh and futuristic - that it will still hold up with TODAY'S music.
Q-Tip, as we all know, started out with the legendary hiphop group - A Tribe Called Quest. The Tribe dropped 3 classic albums and 2 solid efforts. Then Tip went for dolo; but he still delivered the goods as a solo artist on 'Amplified' and other features.

-And once again, the Abstract Poetic delivers the sonic goods with 'The Renaissance'!

This album was meticulously hand-crafted and it shows! This is a COMPLETE ALBUM - not a CD with 2 radio singles and a bunch of ringtones. Nah playah - this is REAL MUSIC. Each track stands alone as an accomplished effort, flowing smoothly one into the other.

Not too many albums in popular music (especially, i hate to say, Black music) will sound this complete and well-produced. The sound we have today is so robotic, so cheesy, and so mass-produced.... we think we all forgot what really GOOD music sounds like. Well Q-Tip reminds us - and this album gets better every time you listen it. It just sounds - GOOD.

It sounds good while driving to work.

It sounds good while AT work.

It sounds good while bumpin' it at nite.

It sounds good chillin' with the fam.

It sounds good to my 7-yr old son.

It sounds good at cook-outs.

It sounds good at social sets.

It sounds good at art galleries.

It sounds good on the elevator.

It will sound good as a soundtrack.
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