Q-Tip: Five Great Collaborations

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Sat, 04/10/2021 - 19:34
Q-Tip in 2017

“Listen to The Abstract, got it goin’ on,” Q-Tip raps in his guest turn on the Beastie Boys’ “Get It Together.” We should, and he did.

The man alternatively known as Kamaal The Abstract, The Lone Ranger, The Last Zulu or, simply, Tip, has collaborated with dozens of artists over the course of his career, and made every one of them sound better in the process. In most cases, he’s providing an aside to the main stream of the song, or interjecting a bit of essential knowledge. Regardless, his flow is laid back and supple; he’s not going to growl at you, like his frequent collaborator Busta Rhymes, but you do know he’s there - there’s no mistaking him, not even in a crowd of other MCs.

So let’s take a listen to five primo Q-Tip collaborations, witnessing both his greatness and the greatness he brings to others’ songs. In other words, let’s listen to The Abstract...

“A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays” (with De La Soul): This joyful take on smoking weed and roller skating on the weekend opens with a short, almost skeletal “boy meets girl” story from Tip. The whole thing - from De La Soul’s second record, De La Soul is Dead -  is a lot of fun, perfect for breezy summer afternoons, or maybe early evenings, as the night’s fun is just beginning.

“Galvanize” (with Chemical Brothers): The Chemical Brothers have always been great at making anthems that work as well on the dance floor as they do swelling from a stage in some European stadium. Tip’s canny hook and verses elevate the song and give the crowd something to shout along to.

“Chocolate Box” (with Prince): This is late-period, indie Prince (from 2009’s MPLSound album) channeling older, weirder Prince, with AutoTuned vocals and a chorus with lines like “I got a box o' chocolates that'll rock the socks / Off any girl that want 2 come my way.” Q-Tip keeps things relatively earthbound, even injecting humor into his verse (“I'm your Willy Wonka, golden ticket is yours / Don’t you waste, not one taste, from my ladle it pours”).

“Get It Together” (with the Beastie Boys): This is the great stuff, the classic stuff, with Tip slotting himself in perfectly in the typical mic-passing Beastie-go-round, even cracking himself up a bit as he goes. If you’ve never heard this, you have no excuse. Dig in and enjoy.

“Ital” (with The Roots): Tip trades verses with Black Thought on a cut that moves from the pair sharing origin stories, to discussing the state of hip-hop. You don’t want the conversation to end.