Originally from Queens, NY, Tip was born Jonathan Davis but later changed his name to Kamal Ibn John Fareed after converting to Islam. Today, Q-tip turns 46 years young, and what better way to celebrate than with a roundup of some his timeless gems. From his legendary work with Tribe to other collaborations, he’s been putting in decades of work in the hip hop scene and beyond. The Abstract Poetic is known for his dynamic style, original flavor and fresh flow.
Innovative and monumental, his production work with A Tribe Called Quest combined socially-conscious, cutting wordplay with influences from jazz. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm dropped on April 10, 1990, with now-iconic tracks like “Bonita Applebum”, “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” and “Can I Kick It?”. A year later, The Low End Theory was released on September 21, 1991, making a powerful statement by blending genres and fusing the essence of hip hop with jazz. Soon after, Midnight Marauders dropped on November 9, 1993, boldly delivering track after track designed to maraud your ears. Right off the bat, “Steve Biko (Stir It Up)” takes a socially conscious approach, named in honor of South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, while others like “Electric Relaxation” and “Oh My God” highlight Phife and Q-Tip’s lyricism and undeniable flow. Q-Tip branched out from here, also producing tracks like “One Love” for Nas and “Illusions (Remix)” for Cypress Hill. Tribe’s fourth album, Beats, Rhymes and Life was released on July 30, 1996, mixing in a smooth production style from Dilla with singles like “1nce Again” and “Stressed Out”. The Love Movement marked ATCQ’s final album, released on September 29, 1998 with featuring tracks like the laid-back groove with “Find A Way” and “Steppin’ It Up”. Soon after, Q-Tip explored solo projects with Amplified (1999) and The Renaissance (2008). Outside of his production work with ATCQ, he also produced for a plethora of artists including Busta Rhymes, Whitney Houston, Kanye West, Mariah Carey and more. In 2013, Q-Tip hinted at more possible collaborations and upcoming work on the horizon in a detailed interview with Red Bull Music Academy. Just announced in March 2016, Q-Tip was appointed as the Kennedy Center’s first artistic director of hip-hop culture in Washington, DC, signifying even more community work to come.
With the recent passing of Phife Dawg, Q-Tip spoke out on Twitter, “I miss my lil brotha so much right now…. He is my hero. I’ve never seen such a fighter. Know that in death there is signs and gifts abound. He left me with the gift of unconditional love and brotherhood that will NEVER be lost with me… Ever. As we commit his body tomorrow his spirit is with us… I take comfort in knowing that GOD is the best of planners. I take comfort in knowing that divine order is certain…I take pride in having the blessing of knowing and having Malik in my life.” A formerly unreleased track from Phife entitled “Nutshell” just dropped, featuring Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi, along with production from J. Dilla. Straight fire, it’s beyond a doubt that Q-Tip is always on point, making a profound impact on hip hop culture from the golden era up until present day.
Check out a round-up of our fave Q-Tip produced songs below.
“Give Up The Goods”
“Breath N’ Stop”
Q-Tip feat D’Angelo
“That’s My Bitch”
Jay-Z & Kanye West
“The World Is Yours Remix”