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Kamaal the Abstract (Arista)

Q-Tip's solo debut, the chart-topping Amplified, transformed the former Tribe Called Quest frontman from a pillar of soulful, Afrocentric consciousness into a purveyor of Puffy-esque misogynistic nonsense. If Amplified's flavor-of-the-month, jiggafied beats and racy lyrics shocked longtime Tribe fans, Kamaal the Abstract will do the same for completely different reasons.

Q-Tip's musical hero is Miles Davis, and it seems he hopes to mimic Davis's ability to single-handedly create a new style of music by taking dramatic sonic detours. Davis was often vilified for his quirkiness, though, and Tip should take some heat, too.

Q-Tip, who has taken up piano and bass in the last year, started work on Kamaal with his new band, Rose, which consists of a handful of young jazz upstarts. At times, they create a unique blend of jazz, folk, soul, and hip-hop. "Abstractionism" brings in the bounce of Amplified, but with a heap of musical and lyrical departures from the norm. These improv styles, however, sometimes yield meandering music that is just downright boring. On "Do U Dig U," Q-Tip sings the chorus repeatedly for four minutes amid an agitating drum machine loop and flute. He asks, "Did you hit the bong?" No, but we think we know who did.


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