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HIP - HOP

Q-Tip

November 3, 2008
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The Renaissance

Universal Motown

ESSENTIAL "Manwomanboogie"

Hip-hop fans have had to slog through derivative, mindless albums lately waiting for one to remind them why they fell in love with the genre in the first place. "The Renaissance," Q-Tip's first official record in nine years, does just that. On the opening "Johnny Dead," he says, "It's up to me to bring back the hope/ The feeling in the music that you can quote." Hopefully, it will usher in a revival of spirited, intelligent hip-hop. Tip's quirky vocal timbre, unique flow, and endless search for the good groove are in place. The music is produced by the MC, except for one track, the kinetic "Move," by the late J. Dilla. It wouldn't be a Tip disc without songs of love, and there are several keepers including the sincere "Gettin' Up." "Believe," on which D'Angelo comes out of his cave, extols faith in a higher power and oneself without phony piousness. Norah Jones helps on "Life Is Better," an ode to the traditions of hip-hop. The disc is an affirmation that life, and hip-hop, can indeed get better. (Out now) - KEN CAPOBIANCO

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