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Kamaal the Abstract

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Album Review

A personal, unique project compared to Amplified (Q-Tip's first under his own name), Kamaal the Abstract fittingly sounds more like a solo album; whereas Amplified merely built on the digital soul of the last Tribe Called Quest album (The Love Movement), this one is wide-ranging and diverse, a relaxed, loose-limbed date. Q-Tip lays way back on these cuts, rapping in a quick, low monotone for the opener, "Feelin'," even while the song breaks into some restrained guitar grind on the choruses. Guitars, in fact, crop up all over this record. Setting aside comparisons to the contemporary record by N.E.R.D. (the rock side project of hip-hop super-producers Neptunes), Q-Tip crafted a record that pays homage to the last gasp of organically produced mainstream pop in the '70s and '80s, paying a large compliment to Prince and Stevie Wonder, even as he proves himself far more talented than D'Angelo (if not quite as soulful). The beats are pointed and clipped, to be expected on a Q-Tip record, but he allows plenty of space for the arrangements to speak, like the trim trumpet lines pacing "Even if It Is So" or allowing plenty of room for extended blowing from a flute on the warm, pastoral "Do You Dig You." The former is one of the best tracks here, Q-Tip introducing his story song with a fluid, ten-second speed-rap that says more about the plight of the single mother he adores than any other rapper could with an entire album. This wasn't the kind of record that lights up the charts — which could account for the reason it didn't appear on the shelves in late April 2002, as expected, and only earned an official release in 2009 — but in many ways it's superior to the released Amplified. [The 2009 release via Jive included a bonus track, "Make It Work."]

Biography

Born: 10 April 1970 in New York, NY [Harlem]

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The longtime MC with pioneering alternative hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest, rapper Q-Tip was born Jonathan Davis in New York City on November 20, 1970. While a student at the Murray Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, he co-founded A Tribe Called Quest in 1988 with fellow students Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Phife (Malik Taylor). The following year, Q-Tip guested on De La Soul's "Buddy," with the two groups forever linked through their association with the Native Tongues collective. Tribe's...
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