Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Q-TIP | Amplified
Selected by Patrick Corcoran
As de facto leader of the much loved and highly influential hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, it was less than surprising to find a debut solo album from Q-Tip drop less than a year after the arrival of The Love Movement (1998), the group’s final album (at that time). Arriving in 1999, it found Q-Tip continuing his burgeoning creative relationship with James “J Dilla” Yancey, with catchy hooks, seriously funky grooves and Jay Dee’s liberally sprinkled production magic dominating proceedings.
Of the thirteen tracks on offer, only four feature samples, leaving the rest to be created entirely by the genius of the two main attractions. And genius raises its head at regular intervals throughout. It’s there on album opener “Wait Up” as an urgent repetition of a single note gives way to a jaunty piano line and a neck snapping beat. It’s also there on the impossibly tight funk of “Moving With U” and the sci-fi keyboard lines of “All In.”
But the solid gold, certifiable genius moment here is the 4 minutes and 3 seconds of “Breathe and Stop.” Sampling “N.T.” by Kool and The Gang, Dilla and Tip create a monstrous Big Beat epic that threatens to knock the globe off its axis.