Q-Tip's highly anticipated Motown debut, Live at the Renaissance, has been pushed back several times but is scheduled for a late-March release as of this writing. Q-Tip ran into trouble when Arista shelved his last release, Kamaal the Abstract, in 2002; with further holdups at Dreamworks, Kamaal has still yet to see the light of the day. But, now, Q-Tip seems to have solid backing from the Motown-Universal powers to put out the album he envisions. From bits and pieces that have drifted out of record-label listening sessions, Q-Tip has struck a balance that integrates his more experimental jazz-fusion phases with the infectious funk that made him and his A Tribe Called Quest compatriots hip-hop legends. His lyrical flow is instantly identifiable, and he's produced a hotbed of beats, chords and percussive drum claps that keep uptempo songs nestled firmly in the pocket. “Let me tell you a story about a boy from the Tribe Called Quest,” starts the first single, “The Nasty,” which pairs him with Busta Rhymes.
Q-Tip may be back with sexy, fiery, playful references over boom-bap beats reminiscent of The Ummah, but he doesn't fall back on formula. He's produced most of the album himself (with the exception of several cuts by Pharrell Williams and longtime collaborator Jay Dee) and also managed to get back to hip-hop roots with an assembly of live musicians, scoffing standard sampling procedure. Rich tones result with live horns, and collaborations with jazz players and funkateers add bottom to Tip's beats, rhymes and theory in practice with guest MCs such as Andre 3000, Pharoahe Monch and Consequence.