Q-Tip – The Renaissance: #902 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Q-Tip - The Renaissance

Why is Q-Tip’s The Renaissance on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

The best solo album by the great Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest (and many collaborations) fame.

Some stats & info about Q-Tip – The Renaissance

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Alternative Rap
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • When was The Renaissance released? 2008
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #902 out of 1,000

Q-Tip’s The Renaissance on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.

What does Q-Tip’s The Renaissance mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

For my money, the best solo album by the great Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest (and many collaborations) fame is The Renaissance. And a healthy chunk of the rationale behind that comes in the form of the sizzling, smooth, and catchy as all get out track called “Won’t Trade.”

Exceptionally sly lyrics mixing the line between the business side of sports fame and some kind of relationship is only matched by Q-Tip’s absolutely-at-the-top-of-his-game flow.

Some more interesting background from Genius.com:

The beat comes from the Ruby Andrews song “You Made A Believer Out Of Me” which was used on the De La Soul song “Brain Washed Follower” from 1989. As A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul were both active members of the Native Tounges, the two groups were pretty close, and their track likely inspired the beat of this track.

The production on The Renaissance is absolutely wild, and a great example is the fantastic keyboards on “Johnny Is Dead,” which flirts with being experimentally weird but lands on exactly the right spot.

“Shaka” kind of does veer into experimentally weird but, you know what? I dig it!

This is kind of dumb, but it’s an example of how music can tie us to hyper specific places and times in our lives. I’m pretty sure I discovered “Won’t Trade” on iTunes and downloaded it whatever mobile device I used to listen to music in the late 2000s (probably an mp3 player of some kind, but I can’t quite recall).

Anyway, I have specific memories of listening to “Won’t Trade” while working out on the stair climber at my local gym, the one with “continuous stairs” that keep going and going until you hit the big red STOP button or your timed workout finishes. It’s an incredibly ruthless workout, at least for yours truly, but one that I got into for a while.

The gym was a 24 Hour Fitness located way on the eastside of Pasadena, California, near Arcadia. For the many years that I frequented this gym it was in terrible disrepair, as though it was ever on the verge of a major upgrade in equipment and facilities that never quite happened. It was also located almost completely below ground, and had that peculiar mix of dank and sweaty vibe that you might expect in such a scenario.

And, bonus! If you’re not familiar with Southern California geography, this is an inland location in what is essentially a desert. So in the summer it got hot. Well, that’s not a strong enough word: it got mega hot.

The weirdest part of all, though, is that I mostly kind of liked it. Well, not during the hottest times of the year, I guess, but I mostly liked it. I enjoyed working out at night, and it was convenient, with plenty of parking, and mostly pretty quiet at later hours.

Even in a state of disrepair, the “24 Hour” part of 24 Hour Fitness was a major perk, and it was kind of fun to work out while knowing most people in my time zone were asleep. And the stair stepper machines were cool – when they weren’t broken!

Writing this now, some two years into the madness of this global pandemic, I miss those days and nights quite a bit.