Q-Tip: The RenaissanceA Tribe Called Quest is one of a small class of hip-hop groups that is beloved by absolutely everyone — rap purists, bohemians, and of course whitey suburbanites. Speaking of that latter demographic, I fell in love with Tribe in college via their stone classic The Low End Theory, which remains one of my all-time favorite albums. They served as my introduction to the wide world of hip-hop. In this I am, I fear, a cliche, but what can you do?

Since Tribe broke up, Q-Tip, one of the group’s two MCs and its real soul, released a solo album that wasn’t so great (Amplified, a misguided attempt to be “hard”), had another solo album canned by his label (Kamaal the Abstract, a misguided attempt at jazz experimentation), and now, finally, has released a plain ol’ hip-hop album: The Renaissance.

It doesn’t reach Tribe’s heights — the beats don’t come close to living up to the immortal work of Tribe DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad — but it’s a welcome return to form. To be honest, Q-Tip barely needs beats at all. His flow is so addictive he might as well go a capella. Witness the first few bars of this song, “Dance on Glass.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!