Yeah, I AM covering a Q-Tip solo joint before I’ve even gotten into A Tribe Called Quest. Deal with it.
I’d nearly forgotten about about Amplified, the solo debut of Queens rapper Q-Tip which dropped in late ’99, a year after Tribe’s final record, The Love Movement. Expectations were high for the record, what with the Tribe being one of the most acclaimed groups of the ’90s and Tip playing a prominent role in expanding the world of hip-hop and popular music in general with his rhymes, which were personal, timely, and covered much ground on what it meant to be an artist and to be black in the ’90s. When the album dropped however, many were scratching their heads. Amplified eschewed the jazzy beats and thoughtful rhymes of old for jittery, skeletal instrumentals and somewhat simpler lyrics from Tip, making for a quite a departure. Reception was mixed, and some Tribe fans wrote the off.
Listening to the record now? It isn’t all that bad!
…Well, aside from that ending track which featured Korn.
Amplified definitely has it’s moments which still get my head nodding 15 years on, much of it thanks to the production handled by Tip and the mythic producer J Dilla, and when “Let’s Ride” started thumping in my eardrums a smile came to my face.
On “Let’s Ride,” Tip simply rhymes about picking up a special lady in his completely decked-out truck. That’s it. It’s more of a love letter to his ride than to the woman, actually. And it’s pretty damn good. Dilla’s instrumental is simple but infectiously dope (Note to self, cover a Slum Village record sooner or later). The thumping drum pattern, guitar lick, quick vocal samples and that droning noise from E.S.G.‘s “UFO” all combine to make a beat which is composed at one moment and all out spacey in the next, perfect for blasting the in whip as you take off to Mars. It’s simple, but effective, and it’s a listen which still gets a lot of burn from me.