Tip - Amplified Album reviews.
Release Date: 11.23.99
Record label: BMG / Arista
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
Leaving the Tribe Behind
Well, here it is. The album that we've all been waiting for since that fateful day on the Beastie Boys last tour. Yes, that's right....the day that Q-Tip stood up on stage as the opening act and told everyone at the show that The Love Movement would be the last Tribe Called Quest album and the group was splitting for each to take their separate ways. (review of concert they announced it at)
That same day was followed by the mass media announcement to which half of America's air was suddenly sucked out as one collective gasp was taken by all hip-hop fans. We could all breathe again about ten seconds later when we realized the talent that the individual members possessed. This led everyone of us to believe that solo projects were not far behind. On top of that, the increasing dependence of Q-Tip's lyrics on the previous two Tribe albums made it a fair assumption that the first project to be released would come from no other than Q-Tip himself.
This brings us to the release of Amplified. Before this album even hit the shelves, it already had quite a bit of weight resting squarely on its shoulders. Both history and current projects have a tendency to build pressure on those who are anticipated. As far as history is concerned, since Q-Tip is the first member to release a solo project, he finds himself in the position to continue the tradition of possibly two of the most hailed hip-hop albums in history: more specifically The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders.
Unfortunately, the other type of pressure revolves around the disappointment felt by quite a few in recent memory. This comes in the form of the last two Tribe albums as well as the Violator compilation. The fluidity, masterful lyrics and wholly original samples found in the earlier Tribe works were somehow replaced with a discordant sound with unneeded guest appearances on recent projects.
But the most important matter at hand is still the release of Amplified. From taking a look at the album sleeve, we know that there will be pieces of Tribe in the album which has been trademarked by the production style of the Ummah.
The album starts with "Wait up," which shows the typical Tribe feel of sitting heavy on beat 1 and 3, but the hook piano sample is somehow more Q-Tip than Pfife. The depiction of real life found in earlier recordings has been replaced by more of a house feel of lyrics which will be consistent throughout the album.
"Breathe and Stop" is definitely the hottest club track to come out of hip-hop of the year. An irresistible beat behind lyrics basically about movin it lends it to a wider audience that the Tribe could never reach. Two tracks later, we find "Let's Ride" which is very reminiscent of Beats, Rhymes and Life stemming from its acoustic instrument sampling and musing about what goes on in his head, both from his influences and also how they affect his song writing.
Aside from the insightful chorus to "Things U Do" (without much in the actual song), fatty party beats continue through "All In" and "Vivrant Thing" until the most original beats on the record are heard late in the album on his compilation with Busta Rhymes, "N.T.".
"End of Time"'s compilation effort of Q-Tip is inventive in its choice of sampling, but the complete lack of similarity in content of Q-Tip and Jonathan Davis (of Korn) makes the song completely incohesive. Amplified lends a view into a window of Q-Tip that most of haven't seen before. Undoubtedly, he reinforces his talent and ability to choose incredible samples which match both his tone and content.
Unfortunately, the album lacks fluidity from track to track and an insightful piece of Q-Tip's mind which we don't even hear until the hidden track at the end of the record. Q-Tip will no doubt attract a larger audience with this recording. Hopefully, that was his aim. 17-Dec-1999 1:00 PM