As one art dies is it replaced by another?
I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and say that my true love, hip-hop, is dead, but we can all agree that its freshness, aura…something about it is not the same as it was 10 years ago or even 5 years ago.
And it seems around this same time, as hip-hop went under-underground, soul has had resurgence (see O-Dub’s post
for the details).
But is this really a resurgence or like my sneakerhead-friend says, “Retro is it, bro.”.
That does seem to be the case if you look at artists like Maxwell, D’Angelo, Lucy Pearl, etc.
And now with Amy Winehouse, Nicole Willis, Mark Ronson (the Godfather of what I like to call “new neo-soul”...the hotness right now) it definitely seems like “retro is it”.
We can all agree that this sound/feel started to pop up first in the hip-hop of A Tribe Called Quest’s later albums (Beats, Rhymes & Life and The Love Movement, the albums that everyone at the time said was the cause of ATCQ’s “fallin’ off”). This sound was spearheaded by Jay Dee/J. Dilla along with Q-tip. Which later became The Ummah (Q-tip, Jay Dee, Ali Shaheed Muhammad). And even when they went their separate ways, (Dilla kept developing his sound to greater highs, Ali went on to form Lucy Pearl with one of the Tonys - Raphael Saadiq), Tip kept plugging away.
This would then bring us to the Slept On portion of this post. Q-tip’s Amplified was an album that was slept on not by mainstream peeps, but more by the underground scene. A lot of people were saying Tip sold out, even his 5ft. man Phife (I believe he called him a wannabe Maxwell, if I’m not mistaken). Sure it seemed with the videos and all that Tip had sort of changed his view up, but harsh words from a brother nonetheless. I don’t know if people were tried of it or were just too damn judgmental, but I think Jay Dee blessed him with some of his nicest beats on Amplified. Case in point:
[MP3] Q-tip :: All In
[MP3] Q-tip :: Let’s Ride
[MP3] Q-tip :: Do It, See It, Be It
Now as this sound grew and developed and part of it became known as Soulaquarian, again Tip was on the scene. But this time it wasn’t the fans that slept, but the record execs who wouldn’t even allow the album Kamaal The Abstract to see the light of day. Time to wake up:
[MP3] Kamaal The Abstract :: Blue Girl
[MP3] Kamaal The Abstract :: Heels
[MP3] Kamaal The Abstract :: Even If It Is So
Even though the newer sound of Winehouse, etc. is more rooted/retro’d in the Motown sound, the concept is the same. And again Tip is in the mix, with his soon-to-be-released Renaissance. Tip calls this album a tribute to Dilla. Here are some of my favorites:
[MP3] Q-Tip feat. Andre 3000 :: That’s Sexy
[MP3] Q-Tip :: Where Do You Go
[MP3] Q-Tip feat. D’Angelo :: I Believe
And I couldn’t leave you without Madlib reminding us all where “retro” really came from.
[MP3] Madlib :: Motown Mix
Clean out ya’ ears, cause hip-hop is still hear.