Q-Tip, 'The Renaissance' (Universal Motown)

8
The Renaissance
Critical Mass
Label: Universal Motown

by Barry Walters

Bookending his second solo album with ruminations about hope, the Tribe Called Quest leader lays his eloquent flow over liquid arrangements shimmering with rhythmicfinesse. Up-tempo and uplifting, this largely self-produced record blurs distinctions between accessibility and avant-gardism: The most booty-shaking cut, "ManWomanBoogie," swings on a hissing, syncopated sample from krautrockers Can. But even as he pursues a higher plane via fathoms-deep grooves, Q-Tip packs abstract sass, boasting that he's "the hammerhead," while a lesser MC is a listless "manatee."

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