When A Tribe Called Quest called it quits last year, it brought an end to one of hip-hop's most influential and accessible groups. Where the West Coast acts of the '90s tapped into the funk, Tribe's troika of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad shaped a wholly distinctive jazz-rap hybrid on such albums as "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm," "The Low-End Theory" and "Midnight Marauders," all classics in the hip-hop canon.
On "Wait Up," the opening track of Q-Tip's solo debut, "Amplified" (Arista), he promises that "We on a brand new page/ Millennium days/ Desperation on the streets/ Gotta find a new way. . . . I got a whole new approach for the rhymin.' " But Tribe fans needn't worry about any radical changes: "Amplified" is comfortably familiar, from Q- Tip's easygoing, accessible flow to the jazzy piano vamps, supple rhythms and beats that insinuate rather than assault.
The album includes Q-Tip's biggest hit, "Vivrant Thing," a No. 1 rap and R&B hit from this summer's "Violator" collection (celebrating a rap management company), but the bouncy, guitar-driven track was hardly his best work. It was particularly weak on the lyrics front, saved mostly by Q-Tip's genial disposition and sweet vocal presence.
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