Something momentous happened on Tuesday. It was something that was a long time coming and that I wasn’t quite sure that I’d be alive to see. It meant a lot to blacks and whites and even resonated with people in other countries. I mean, this guy has really impacted countless lives.
I’m just glad that I’m going to be able to tell my kids where I was when Q-Tip finally released his sophomore album. And even though it’s not without its flaws, I’m still glad that it’s made it on shelves. I guess the fourth time really is the charm.
Seriously, Q-Tip is like the Charlie Brown of hip-hop (my apologies to Charlie Brown of LONS.) Let’s really look at the picture. Here’s a guy who’s the breakout star of one of hip-hop’s best loved groups, goes solo, loses everything in a house fire, has three different versions of his sophomore album shelved for not being viable (including one version that’s a precursor to The Love Below, a genre smashing hit) and finally releases his second album nearly a decade after his solo debut.
That, my friends, is resilience.
Q-Tip’s first sophomore album was supposed to be Kamaal the Abstract, which I actually reviewed. I’m a sucker for “artistic growth,” so I appreciated it. But the label didn’t, and it was never released.
His next sophomore album was to be Open. I can remember being excited because at that point I’d heard Kamaal the Abstract, so I was really anxious to hear what this one would be like. Would he have bowed to label wishes to make a more commercially viable record?
Open is somewhere between Amplified and Kamaal in terms of content. It’s certainly got some singles (a la Amplified), but it’s also got its fair share of experimentation, including the seven-minute tale of romantic woe in “Lisa” (hello, Kamaal). Sadly, even in 2005 the labels didn’t believe that there was a market for it.
Open begat Live at the Renaissance, which was essentially just the former minus some songs, plus not only a couple new songs but also some tracks from Kamaal. And yet even after this tweaking, despite the success OutKast had had, Live was shelved too.
But finally, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2008, Q-Tip’s sophomore album, The Renaissance, was released. It’s a momentous day that will go down in history. It was an uphill battle, but Q-Tip finally won, and on his own terms.
The album is actually pretty solid. I’ve got to give it a thorough listen, but I basically dig it so far. It’s got three tracks from Open, but everything else is fresh. In fact, the only flaw that I can find with it is that it’s lacking the “Getting’ Up” remix with Eve, and that’s only because I love the “Benjamins” beat.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to work on my National Novel Writing Month project.