I don’t know if there was journalistic hype about the
project, but I know I was hyped about the release of Kamaal The Abstract. Q-Tip is a musician not just an MC, not just a
lyricist, not just a producer. We all
get to hear his musicality on this set.
Here’s my track by track opinion.
1)Feelin – this cut is heavy on the guitar and keys with
about a one minute rap vocal. The remaining vocals are all sung by Q-Tip and
female background vocalists with a solid musical arrangement. The sound is hip-hop in the beginning but
becomes more groove as it goes on.
2)Do You Dig You – all vocals on this cut are sung and at
about three minutes in the song becomes all about the music particularly the
flute by Gary Thomas. Upbeat with the synth bass making the cut hip-hop in
sound but the remaining instrumentation has more of a fusion sound.
3)A Million Times – all vocals are sung and there are only
two phrases “We’re gonna do it again and again.” “I thought I told you a
million times.” The song is really about the guitar, the keyboards, the groove.
4)Blue Girl – all vocals are sung, with a brief verse and
repeats of the chorus. The feature on this cut is the piano.
5)Barely in Love – Q-Tip and the female vocalist singing
about a girl and being barely in love. The cut has more of a rock vibe. This
one is made for live performance. (Did
see the Jimmy Fallon performance but unable to pull it)
6)Heels – this song immediately put me in mind of early 90’s
Red Hot Chili Peppers. Q-Tip performs a rap vocal about high heels and the
sexiness of said heels on a girl in different settings. The refrain, “put your
heels on girl, put them heels on lady.” Love the energy of this one.
7)Abstractionisms – Q-tip delivers “abstractionisms” on a
brief rap vocal but the cut is really all about THE alto saxophonist Kenny
8)Caring – a sweet short song that features more of the
female vocalists than Tip.
9)Even If It Is So – My favorite track on the CD is about a
girl doing what she has to do to get educated and make things better for
herself and her daughter. Really nice groove on this one.
10)Make it Work – This is the only cut in which Q-Tip
delivers a full-on rap vocal that is longer than a minute or two. This is most hip-hop of all the cuts on the
CD and could have easily fit on the last ATCQ CD.
My first spin through Kamaal the Abstract was cool. I wasn’t
hot, hot for it I believe because I’ve spent the last year listening to The
Renaissance which had a much bigger sound.
Kamaal the Abstract for lack of a
better term is “tighter”. The tracks are more intimate, more out of a jazz
tradition and more about Q-Tips musicianship and the musicianship of the
artists featured on this project. If the
listener is looking for a hip-hop record I would say, it is hip-hop but not
like anything we hear right now. He’s
not Jeezy, Weezy, Ye nor Hov and this CD is void of all things autotune,
thankfully. The shelving of the project was mind boggling to me but in the end the
timing turned out to be fortuitous. There is a major vacuum in hip-hop. Outside
of the hot boys mentioned above (of which Jay is the only one I listen to)
there is a dire lack of creativity, artistry and musicianship. As such hip-hop
fans of “a certain age” like me and fans who just don’t like all that’s being
played on traditional radio right now are left wanting. That said, Kamaal the Abstract is welcome
relief, one that will stay in the rotation.
Good music is good music, that’s what Q-tip is delivering on this one.