Q-Tip Kamaal the Abstract

Q-Tip Kamaal the Abstract

It's been a long time coming but Q-Tip's Kamaal the Abstract album is finally seeing the light of day. At least seven years and almost as many labels after it was originally supposed to surface, officially, the album holds up very well and this is largely because of Q-Tip's approach. Unlike his stellar back catalogue with A Tribe Called Quest, Kamaal the Abstract features Q-Tip mostly singing, as opposed to MCing, and working with a crack set of session musicians, including jazz notables Kurt Rosenwinkel and Kenny Garrett. Yet Tribe's music always drew heavily from jazz, and through his distinctive drum programming Q-Tip fleshes out introspective concepts and ideas that are a logical progression from his past track record, meshing well with his mellifluous voice. Occasionally, the improvisational grooves meander, but the probing "Blue Girl," foot stomper "Barely In Love" and undeniable working-class anthem "Even If It's So" register immediately. It makes you wonder why these songs weren't properly released earlier. But given that Kamaal the Abstract was slated for release well before many MCs such as Cee-Lo and Andre 3000 had full-length vocal projects, in retrospect it is a testament not only to Q-Tip's ongoing relevance and versatile artistic muse but also to his unwavering perseverance. (Jive/Sony)