Sunday, October 21, 2007


When I first heard about this year's VH1 Hip-Hop Honors, I wasn't impressed. I heard they were honoring Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliot and Whodini. Not to be a "hater," in the parlance of the times, but Snoop always seems more like a great character (or guest MC) than a guy who makes classic records. Missy seems to to be a bit too young for this honor (I felt the same way about The Wu-Tang Clan, there's still lots of acts from the '80s who deserve recognition first) and I was never into Whodini.

Then I found out A Tribe Called Quest were also being honored. They're not just one of my favorite hip-hop groups, they're one of my favorite groups, period. I would probably put the MC team of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg against that of any other group. And Ali Shaheed is a great DJ/producer, and a very underrated one. Anyway, the tribute was cool: Common, Lupe Fiasco, Pharell Williams of The Neptunes and Busta Rhymes did a pretty cool performance (Mr. Fiasco messed up the lyrics which led to a, well, fiasco, which you can read about on... well, every hip-hop blog), and Tribe themselves was great.

The honor came at an interesting time: Q-Tip has been on tour, trying to re-ignite his solo career. His solo debut, 1999's Amplified, had a huge hit with "Vivrant Thing," but didn't do that well (maybe because the single came out on a Tribe best of and a Violator management compilation before Amplified was released), and because he seemed a bit, uh, Puffy, which many fans took offense to. The follow-up, the mainly instrumental Kamaal The Abstract (with Tip on keyboards) was shelved by the record label, and so was the next one, Open (although he did release the single, "For The Nasty," with Busta). How many artists do two unreleased albums in a row? Tribe has done some reunion shows in the past few years, and I hope they continue to do them. I was sorry to hear about Phife's problems with diabetes, and I'm glad he seems to be doing well.

I'm looking forward to see what Q-Tip does in the future. He's one of the few guys in hip-hop who I can see really making great albums in his 40s and beyond.

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