Album Review: Kamaal The Abstract (Q-Tip)

12 years ago view-show 668,250


“My pops used to say it reminded him of be-bop”

…thats cuz it is!  Q-Tip`s new record Kamaal The Abstract is closer in sound to Miles Davis`s Kind of Blue than anything previously recorded by Tip and the Tribe.  The record opens with “Feelin“, a rock-influenced track that Tip goes all out on, production wise.  While he only raps for the first fifty seconds of the four and a half minute track, Tip spends the duration of the piece to explore the sounds of an electric keyboard and chunky, trebble laden guitar track.  With hand claps keeping rhythm, Tip and lady vocalists sing the chorus over and over.  The next several tracks all folow suit, sonic explorations of Q-Tip`s love of jazz featuring spaced-out bass lines and funky keyboards that would not be out of place on an Erykah Badu record.

Barely In Love” sounds like what the Black Eyed Peas would have recorded if they spent less time in Miami and more time listening to Muddy Waters records, a danceable, blues-y recording that again features a singing Q-Tip.  “Heels” and “Abstractionisms” sound more like classic Tribe Called Quest tracks, blending disparate sounds from jazz, hip hop, and funk without ever relying solely on one genre or fitting into any.  “Caring” is a minute and thirty seconds of piano and vocal jazz, with Aisha Morris and Kiki singing (and Kamaal sing/breathing heavily) “This song is for you/if you feel blue…” again reminding me of Kind of Blue.

Even If It Is So” is the best Q-Tip track on the record, sounding like himself over a standup bass and acoustic guitar.  It comes off as genuine, a song that he needed to make, as opposed to recorded experiments.

Its a more than decent record, but after hearing it its no surprise that the label shelved it at the time of its 2002 release.   While the record is not going to make any new Q-Tip converts, its rewarding to hear for old-school Tribe fans.   An album like this will sound best on vinyl, played soft, very, very late at night.