The Love Movement
Not so much an end as a new beginning, Q-Tip, Phife and Ali-Shaheed Muhammad's final album as a group does at least point to the continued survival of hip-hop as an artform....
The Tribe's career might be over, but the blueprints they laid bare offer rappers a way out of the current cul-de-sac that threatens to blunt hip-hop's once innovative musical edge.
Two years after 'Beats, Rhymes And Life' was partially misunderstood, the lyricists from Queens, NYC and turntable visionary Ali-Shaheed (aka The Unnmah) are no closer to getting it into people's heads that they're not necessarily hippies, but driven people (two-thirds Muslim) who simply talk about love because too many people are killing each other for stupid reasons.
Not only that, the existence of a playful sense of humour doesn't mean there aren't serious concerns expressed here. The most important thing, though, is that over half of 'The Love Movement' is unlike anything else in music.
At first, especially with the staccato 'Start It Up', the album seems to herald a new minimalism. But listen again and the tracks become drug-free psychedelic experiences in which subsonic bass and weird-sounding beats play a large part.
The concerns are either personal or community-based, Q-Tip drawing from his past on 'Hot 4 U' and 'Against The World' with wryly honest takes on relations with former women friends, before lamenting the state of things in general and offering a solution on 'The Love'. Better still, the closing 'Rock, Rock, Y'all' is a superior posse cut that puts the party back in hip-hop.
Which might just be the shape of the near future.
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