Q-Tip: The Renaissance (Universal Motown)

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This was one of hip hop’s most-anticipated albums of last year, so when it was released, all ears were on Q-Tip’s new tricks. The 9 years between projects turned out to be worth the wait.

This former member of A Tribe Called Quest stays true to his vision to innovate and The Renaissance is as relevant sounding as ever. The unlikely Norah Jones turns up on ‘Life Gets Better’, sounding more Erykah Badu than ‘Come Away With Me’; it is also one of the standout tracks on album. Overall, The Renaissance rekindles Tribe’s previous The Love Movement album vibe of deep, smooth neo-soul-tinged production. Besides the deep beats, it’s Q-Tip’s distinctive rhyming skills that have made him one of the most intelligent hip hop artists ever. This is future hip hop. Listen. KY