Q-Tip's Amplified solo journey!
Updated: Jul 31, 2019
For all you A Tribe Called Quest fans, it's a pleasure and an honor to do a throwback review on Q-Tip's first album, "Amplified". The album was released on November 30th, 1999 under Arista Records and it was completely produced by Q-Tip and the late J. Dilla except for two songs, "Do It" and "N.T." which were produced by DJ Scratch. "Amplified" beats were initiated by J. Dilla, with Q-Tip adding his final touches to it. The featured guests on the album are Busta Rhymes, Korn, Meda Leacock, and Jessica Rivera. The recording of Q-Tip debut solo album started after the breakup of the group A Tribe Called Quest. The reason why I choose on doing my throwback review on Q-Tip's "Amplified", since a young kid, I've always like Q-Tip's swag, aura and his flow on rap songs. Let's see if his first album sounds like the previous albums from ATCQ.
The first songs of the album are "Wait Up" and "Higher", and both songs have that new millennium and futuristic sound, which is completely different than the ATCQ vibes. On the two songs, Q-Tip describes his artistic life of having fun and not entering that gangster vibe gimmick and he's providing some good lyrics and ad-libs. The following song is one of Q-Tip's hits and single of the album, "Breathe & Stop". I don't need to say that the song was a club hit in the 2000s to this day. Then we have the song "Moving With U" where Q-Tip raps about hitting on a girl he finds attractive. "Let's Ride" have a nice and smooth mix of hip-hop and jazz all together which makes the song perfect to enjoy. On the song, Q-Tip explains what he likes to do in his car when he drives, what music he listens to and where he likes to ride, especially when he has a woman as a passenger. This is one of my favorite songs so far. The next song "Things U Do" follows the vibe of the previous song "Let's Ride" but with more kicks and drums in the instrumental and Q-Tip raps only one full verse in the song with 2 hooks. The following song is called "All In" featuring Meda Leacock and the song has a nice light electronic hip-hop vibe thanks to J. Dilla. With 7 songs listened so far, I like that most of the songs from the album have a smooth and dancing vibe which it makes enjoyable to listen while relaxing to it too.
We are now in the second half of the album with the song "Go Hard". The song has a nice kick to it and Q-Tip's rap skills delivery was good as well. "Do It" is featuring Jessica Rivera and I felt that the beat was a bit all over the place which made me not being attracted to the song. The following song is Q-Tip lead single of "Amplified" and one of his biggest hits, "Vivrant Thing". The instrumental of the song has almost the same vibe of "Breathe & Stop", and it's describing Q-Tip's fun with the ladies. The song was interpolated years later, two times by rapper J. Cole for his songs "Work Out" and "You Got It" featuring Wale. There are also 2 remixes to "Vivrant Thing", one with Busta Rhymes & Missy Elliot, and one which is a "Special Girl remix" with Charli Baltimore, Eve and Lil' Kim. Then we have "N.T." featuring Busta Rhymes on the hook. With a nice instrumental from DJ Scratch, Q-Tip delivered some sick lyrical punchlines bar after bar, and he even shows an arrogant side of him as a rapper. The song finishes with a funny pissed off Busta Rhymes. The next song is called "End of Time" featuring the metal group Korn. I think Q-Tip wanted to do a hip-hop/metal song which came out not so bad. I wasn't a fan of the song, but I wouldn't say that it's a bad one neither. The album finishes with "Do It, See It, Be It" where Q-Tip tells a story about his influences and journey to become an MC, the creation of the group ATCQ and the breakup as well. The instrumental is smooth and relaxing thanks to the great J. Dilla, and it was a nice storytelling from Q-Tip to finish the album.
I don't know how the hip-hop fans reacted to the album when it came out 20 years ago but in my personal opinion, it's nice to see a different side and unique rapping skills of Q-Tip's solo rap journey compared to when he was with A Tribe Called Quest where the song was more tribal and serious. You can hear by listening to "Amplified" that Q-Tip was about having fun with the ladies but in a gentleman's way and still be lyrically active. With the thug image that most rappers were showing during that era, Q-Tip showed that he was grown, mature and a gentleman who just wanted to have fun. After listening to "Amplified" I rarely hear Q-Tip's name when we talk about great MCs and he should be mentioned, and let's not forget that he's a good producer as well.