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First listen: Q-Tip

EW gets a sneak peak at the legendary rapper’s long-awaited ”Renaissance” album

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It’s been eight years since Q-Tip, cofounder of seminal alt-rap group A Tribe Called Quest, released his solo debut, Amplified. After bouncing from label to label — recording two unreleased albums along the way — he’s readying his second effort, The Renaissance, which Universal Motown will drop in early ’08. In the NYC studio where he’s mixing the CD, an optimistic Q-Tip played us a few tracks.

”OFFICIAL”
Like most of his new songs, this one features motivational lyrics set to the beats of a live, five-piece jazz/funk band. ”I have to do it for me, just like you do it for you,” he raps over a chilled-out groove. Explains Q-Tip: ”It’s a statement about self-preservation.”

”BE BRAVE”
A falsetto from OutKast’s André 3000 intertwines with Q-Tip’s own vocals on this playful yet politically conscious jam about love and war. ”It’s a singing-rappers stew!” Q-Tip jokes. ”[André] a wildly creative person.”

”FEVER”
Longtime collaborator J Dilla, who died last year at age 32 of a rare blood disease, produced the intricate pattern of finely diced synths that backs Q-Tip’s uplifting lyrics (”You gotta have a fever for something good”). ”Since he’s passed,” says Q-Tip, ”I wanted to include the track.”

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