Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Nominated My DJ for President

Two wonderful things happened on Tuesday. We elected a man who has pledged to end the war in Iraq; promote access to healthcare for our 47 million uninsured; reduce taxes for all but our wealthiest; and restore our financial stability and our tarnished reputation abroad. These are tall orders for a man who is currently choosing his Cabinet members (and a dog for his daughters). But the act of displacing the current occupants from the White House is a giant step in the right direction.

The other great thing that happened on November 4th was the return of the rapper known as Q-Tip. I say this with no intention of diminishing the historic significance of our 44th President's election. Q-Tip's journey has also been hard-fought and unlikely.

After his 1999 solo debut, Q-Tip recorded an ambitious album called Kamaal the Abstract, but Arista refused to release it. He changed labels and made an album in 2004 called Open, but J Records wouldn't release it. Q-Tip recorded Live at the Renaissance in 2005, but Universal/Motown (his third label in 10 years) shelved it until now. Wikipedia has a list of Q-Tip's myriad guest appearances during the past 20 years. (Yes, it's been that long since "Black Is Black".)

The Renaissance includes guest vocals by D'Angelo (another performer who hasn't made a record in years), Norah Jones (on the excellent "Life Is Better"), and Raphael Saadiq. Q-Tip raps fluidly over syncopated rhythms on "Johnny Died" (which dates back to Open) and "ManWomanBoogie" (which samples a Holger Czukay bassline!) The single, "Gettin Up", is upbeat and infectious; "Official" is a hot slice of boom-bap; and the anthemic closing track, "Shaka", pays tribute to Q-Tip's father and the late JDilla.

I don't listen to a lot of new hip-hop. I miss the glory days of Rakim, Quest and the Jungle Brothers. The only other rap album I paid any attention to this year was Mingle by the Saturday Knights. It's hard to get excited about speeded-up soul samples, auto-tuned vocals, and unimaginative rappers that Q-Tip calls "nursery rhyme n*ggas that play like they crime figgas". It's great to hear Q-Tip again.

Q-Tip and J.Period: Q-Tip for President (courtesy of
Saturday Knights: Count It Off (buy Mingle and vote for their video).


At 11/14/2008 11:44 AM , Blogger Nathan Nothin said...

How are things going?
Have been really busy, barely time to post up tunes lately. Stop by to read & hear the latest, but haven't left word.
Just wondering what you think of Atlanta locals Deerhunter's newest? Last you mentioned them was last year, I think. Have you heard it? Do you like it? I think it's spot on myself.

At 11/14/2008 5:54 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

Hey, Nathan! I've been doing the same, reading your blog but not always leaving comments. I have not heard Microcastle yet, and I have no excuse for ignoring it. I've read several very positive reviews, and I'm glad to hear that you like it.

I have been listening to another very good Atlanta band called All the Saints. Their debut album was first released on the Killer Pimp label (which is associated with, and it was recently reissued by Touch & Go. The band has been described as shoegaze meets Black Sabbath.


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