Album Review | Q-Tip – Kamaal the Abstract

This album was released on September 15th in 2009. However, it was recorded in 2001, and was originally meant to be released in 2002. Q-Tip’s label shelved the record because it apparently doesn’t have the same commercial appeal that his debut album did. I have no expectations for this project. I loved Q-Tip’s second album, The Renaissance, but that was recorded far after the composition of this album. I liked Amplified, but it was heavily flawed. I’m hoping this is much better than that project. This album is supposed to be far more experimental in comparison, so this should be an interesting listen. Every song is self produced.

1. Feelin’

This track opens up with a verse about how Q-Tip is being harassed by a police officer. The production in this track is really fuckin’ good honestly. Is that an electric guitar? I think that’s the instrument that’s being played. It sounds really good. There’s a long organ solo after the first recital of the hook that sounds pretty nice. Q-Tip’s verse was cool, but the production is really what makes this song stand out to me. I love it. This shit is dope af.

2. Do You Dig U? featuring Kurt Rosenwinkel & Gary Thomas

This song has a really nice, jazzy beat. Q-Tip’s singing, and he actually sounds kinda good. Hmmm… I have a feeling that this album is gonna be Q-Tip’s equivalent of The Love Below. Kurt Rosenwinkel is a guitarist, and Gary Thomas is a flutist. They both have pretty good contributions to the song. There are some uncredited female vocals in the background too. This song has zero rapping. I don’t think it’s as good as the opening track, but I don’t really have any problems with it. It’s a really smooth song. I mean, it probably didn’t need to be over 7 minutes, but it doesn’t feel too long. It’s dope.

3. A Million Times

Oh shit. The guitar on this track sounds really fuckin’ good. The electric guitar is one of my least favorite instruments, but the way it’s incorporated in this song works really well. This is another song that just features Q-Tip singing. There’s no rapping at all. The way he layered his vocals sounds really good. I don’t really have much to say about this track. There’s not a lot going on lyrically. The only two lines in the song are “thought I told you a million times” and “I said we’re going to do it, again and again.” The song is a little over four minutes long, but it doesn’t feel like it overstays its welcome at all. This is probably my favorite track so far honestly. It’s pretty insubstantial lyrically, but it’s fantastic sonically. This shit is dope af.

4. Blue Girl

Man, the production on this album is really great so far. I love the beat on this track. Q-Tip’s singing again. He sounds pretty good. The hook is dope. There are some uncredited female vocals in the background again. This is another really simplistic song lyrically. The way the production kinda evolves after the second recital of the hook is fucking great. The song fades out, but then Q-Tip comes back in and starts rapping. His delivery is a lot more energetic than it usually is. The way his flow is synchronized with the piano is really dope. This is a pretty good track. I feel like it lasted a bit too long. It’s still good though. I fuck with this track. It’s dope.

5. Barely in Love

This is definitely my favorite track so far. The production is awesome, and Q-Tip’s singing sounds really great on the first verse. The hook honestly isn’t that great, but the rest of the song is so good that it makes up for it. It doesn’t have any rapping. It’s a pretty straightforward song structurally. There are just two short sung verses, and a hook. There’s not much to break down. This was the lead single from this album. As far as I can tell, it was the only track released from this album in 2002 before it ended up being shelved. I would’ve been super disappointed if I heard this in 2002, and then found out that the album wasn’t coming out. This shit is dope af.

6. Heels

The beat on this song isn’t as impressive as the previous few songs in my opinion, but it’s still pretty good. Q-Tip’s actually rapping on this track. The content isn’t that interesting. He’s just rapping about an attractive girl. He likes girls who wear heels. I’m gonna be honest… I don’t really think a girl in heels is any more attractive than that same girl in any other pair of shoes. I mean, obviously I wouldn’t find her attractive if she was wearing crocs or tevas or some shit like that. I just don’t think heels should be a requirement. Anyway, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the subject matter, I really love this song. The way the beat switches up for the hook is fucking awesome. He flows over the production pretty well too. This is dope af.

7. Abstractionisms featuring Kenny Garrett

The production on this track is solid. Q-Tip’s rapping again. He has two verses on this song, which are both pretty good. Kenny Garrett kinda takes the song over after the second verse ends after two minutes. I find it kind of interesting that the two songs with features are my least favorite tracks so far. I guess it’s just because they’re a little too long in my opinion. None of the instrumental performances really blow me away. I’m not as impressed as I’d like to be. I feel like Q-Tip was trying to do what Lupe Fiasco did when he had Terrace Martin play the saxophone at the end of Body of Work. None of the features really steal the show like that though. I still think this is a good song. I’m just not as impressed as I was with a lot of the other tracks. It’s dope though. I fuck with it.

8. Caring

This is the shortest song on the album. It’s under two minutes long. I don’t really like it. It’s not particularly bad. It just isn’t that enjoyable for me. It’s Q-Tip harmonizing with two uncredited female vocalists about how you shouldn’t be feeling blue because someone is caring for you. It’s got some really minimal production. I think the only instrument in the entire song is a piano. I won’t ever listen to this again. It’s decent. It seems kind of unnecessary though.

9. Even If It Is So

This song has Q-Tip rapping again, and the production is phenomenal. The way the beat builds as the track progresses is great. The acoustic guitar, drums, horns, and piano all sound really nice. It sounds like he’s rapping about some girl that he’s kind of into who has a rough life. His singing on the hook sounds really good. The production is really what makes this song stand out to me though. This might be my favorite track on the album. It’s really fuckin’ good. I don’t have any issues with it at all. It’s dope af.

10. Make It Work

This is technically a bonus track. The beat is pretty dope, but it sounds REALLY goddamn similar to the song Midnight from Midnight Marauders. This song has a much more traditional sound that one would expect from Q-Tip compared to the rest of the songs that actually made it onto the standard edition of the album. The sung hook on this track is solid, and the verses are average for Q-Tip. Nothing about this song really stands out. If you’re a big fan of Q-Tip and you for whatever reason feel alienated by the different direction he went in with this album, you’ll at least appreciate this song. I like it. It’s dope.

This album is great. I wasn’t really sure how I was gonna feel about this project. The descriptions I heard of it didn’t really sound that appealing honestly. I think this is a really well executed album though. The production is really great, and it’s honestly not really that experimental, especially compared to more avant-garde Hip Hop releases that are being released these days. Q-Tip isn’t an amazing singer, but his vocals are sufficient throughout this project. I don’t really think there are any consistent flaws. A couple of the songs lasted a little too long, and there was one track that didn’t really impress me, but for the most part I think this went over really well. This shit is dope.

Favorite Song: Barely in Love
Least Favorite Song: Caring


Grade: B+

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