Song of the Day: Q-Tip
The second track of the new album from the founding father of A Tribe Called Quest -- a hip-hop group few have matched -- nods to everything that group used to its advantage: seamless use of soul sample; clean, repetitive beat; tight flow; and discussion of New York City's politics and culture.
That's not to say that this record is a complete retread of the Quest catalog or that of Q-Tip, who's got stronger solo work than many think. Tip sounds fresh, as does the production, but both take cues from the past greatness of the Native Tongues. It's probably a good thing, since the emcee is much like New York Knick Stephan Marbury: brilliant but fickle; at his best when he's comfortable.
For the most part, Tip is in his element here and shines as a result. He's not really interested in breaking new ground, having done that many times before. Instead, he seems content to put forth small, self-contained doses of raps that combine boasting, simple street observations and a little bit of that old funky humor. This is an album that updates a classic sound for a new generation listening to the fruit it bore.
And, in that way, it's great.