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But despite reuniting a few times — including for the current Rock the Bells tour — Q-Tip, 38, is still uneasy mulling over his legacy. And you didn’t have all this information: You had four TV channels, two newspapers, a radio station, and the movie theater.“I’m just tired of talking about Tribe, B,” he says over the phone, three days after our initial interview, which took place at Universal Records’ Midtown Manhattan offices. Those were your portals into the world of entertainment. The music became more prevalent with hip-hop because it was something my sister and I could relate to. My mother used to make my sister take me wherever she went.“It’s like, I’ve been talking about it the whole time.” Maybe that’s because it’s been nine years since the release of his solo debut, Amplified (the jazzy full-band mishmash Kamaal the Abstract and the more conventional Open are only available as online bootlegs), and in the meantime, he’s become better known to a new generation as a stylish Hollywood sidekick (hitting clubs with Leonardo Di Caprio, dating Nicole Kidman). It spoke to us, just being young and having our own energy, our own clothes, the way we spoke, our own art. My sister is six years older than me, so she was taking me to block parties or jams. By then, Grandmaster Flash was a legend in the Bronx.
What role did music play in your household growing up in Jamaica, Queens? I didn’t think I could be in the same setting with the greats, because these were our heroes, so I didn’t really look at it like, “I want to do this.” What made me do it was [future A Tribe Called Quest MC partner] Phife.Kamaal “Q-Tip” Fareed is the leader of Queens, New York–based group A Tribe Called Quest, whose innovative first three albums are perhaps hip-hop’s most universally beloved — by both fans and critics. It wasn’t this thing you did to get out [of the hood].Tensions plagued 1996’s disappointing fourth, Beats, Rhymes and Life, and the trio split in 1998. At the time, people like Stevie Wonder and other artists were superstars, icons.They adopted two kids, Isabella and Connor, both of whom they raised as Scientologists as well.After 12 years and eight months, with 21 movies between them, their union fell apart.