Monday, January 21, 2008

Q-Tip Interview

Read the full interview in the next issue of LTD magazine.

Renaissance. Man.
After two unreleased albums and years of redtape, Q-Tip finally gets to showcase the energy that made him great.

It’s press day and Q-tip is roaming the city multitasking—handling his business while fielding questions on his cell phone. I apparently was conferenced in to a shoddy cell phone connection that had more dropouts than an adult school full of pregnant teenagers. Unaffected by the distraction, and despite the years of label turmoil (4 labels; 2 shelved albums) he chats away with a collected calmness only found in long standing veterans of the music industry.

Q-Tip’s last major release happened 8 years ago with Amplified. The singles “Vivrant Thing” and “Breathe & Stop” bode well with the mainstream but it left most of the Tribe fans wondering if the solo Native Tongue that helped shape the late 80s and early 90s was coming back to his roots. His follow-ups “Kamaal the Abstract” and “Open” were hailed by critics as that return but they never made it to the music racks.

In recent years Q-Tip has ramped up his visibility by sharing the stage with a temporarily reunited A Tribe Called Quest. But more importantly he’s spent the hiatus fine-tuning the sound he’s created with his five-piece band and patiently waiting for his sophomore album’s release.

It’s been years since your heyday, what do you do that keeps you relevant?
You can’t get caught up in the Joneses. You just do what makes you feel good. People will always gravitate towards the truth. I don’t get caught up with getting this cat or that cat on a song. I don’t go around thinking that I need to get a Soulja Boy on my record. You play yourself when you do that.

Are you worried about it’s (The Renaissance) release—especially since they shelved “Kamaal the Abstract” (2002) and “Open” (2005)?
Well they actually didn’t shelve those two albums. With “Open” the Dreamworks went under. With “Kamaal the Abstract” I got released off of Arista due to some creative differences. I got the rights back and I’m working to get that out after Renaissance.

I once asked Posdnuos and Trugoy if they could do anything differently in their career and in true hip hop timing they responded one after another with “I would have kept the masters…” “…instead of handing them to Tommy Boy”. Is there anything that you’d have done different?
Done differently? I don’t have any regrets. It’s destiny you can’t get caught up in that. But in regards to keeping the masters that’s a really good answer. You gotta try to do that right there. Keeping the masters means you keep all your music. You are the principal so you get to decide what happens to it. It tips the economics in your favor—you can choose if it goes into a movie a commercial another song and you get to decide for how much.

Find a copy of LTD mag for the rest...

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