Amplified Review

September 5, 2009

d80162l0j8tArtist: Q-Tip

Album: Amplified

Released: November 23, 1999

Label: Arista

I have talked about A Tribe Called Quest Before, and this is a solo effort by one of the group’s three members.  Q-Tip, Kamaal the Abstract, and sometimes referred to as simply “the abstract rapper” followed A Tribe Called Quest’s 1998 breakup with his debut album Amplified a year later.  I use the album as my primary running music, but friends are skeptical as to that use.  I like to groove with my music while running instead of using it to push me forward forcefully, but to each her own.

Amplified personifies Q-Tip’s laid back abstract style masterfully with its cavernous grooves and staccato beats.  The first track “Wait Up” is aptly named, melding Q-Tip’s smooth flow with a faltering drums and jazz-reminiscent piano.  “Higher” takes the groove deeper and shows the rapper’s skill in both abstract material and classic hip hop swagger.  “Breathe and Stop” offers an even trippier and heavier beat, while “Moving With You” takes that confidence to the romantic level.  “Let’s Ride” offers an extremely intelligent jazz guitar riff that underlies Q-Tip’s chill atmosphere and lives up to its name as a cruising song.

The well-travelled hit of the album is “Vivrant Thing,” and is a true and tested hip hop ode to one amazing woman.  As a long time friend of A Tribe Called Quest and Native Tongues, Busta Rymes makes his appearance for “N.T.” a decidedly more intense song than the rest of the album.  “End of Time (ft. Horn) uses a strange fusion beat that makes it very difficult to describe and closes out Amplified on a note of new things to come from Q-Tip.  There’s also a hidden track, but I won’t spoil that surprise completely.

The combination of disjointed beats and the suave flow of Q-Tip are a perfect mix that was never captured on his two later albums, and although both are solid albums, neither one reached the level of Amplified.  Whether he was still coming off his high with A Tribe Called Quest or just on his game, this is one album any Tribe fan should own.