A lot of kids who come up doing hip-hop are doing so with the only tools that they have. All we had was records. In comes Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash and Bambaataa and … We take these turntables and they become our instruments. [The] society that we’re performing for now is our own society and our own neighborhoods and our own ghettos … And that turns into emceeing. … Apart from jazz, hip-hop is the last true American art form. … We [took] all of these different things and genres that we [were] influenced by and mixed it all together. … It’s a beautiful thing.”
Q-Tip, The Abstract, is a pioneer whose commitment to authentic self-expression solidified his place in American music. He is a hip-hop legend, an originator, and a profound artist. His style, talent, and perspective are apparent in all of his endeavors from Tribe Called Quest’s masterpiece Midnight Marauders to becoming the Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture at the Kennedy Center. And we are here to celebrate nearly 30 years of innovation from Kamaal Ibn John Fareed:
“I was celibate for like a year,” he said in 2016. “I just wanted to ensure my mental health as a human being.” Then one day he said to himself: “How much longer are you going to be here? It’s good that you sat and you’re reading these books and you’re leaving the girls alone but, like, get over yourself.”
"People always judge me against what Tribe was. I try not to pay attention to those shackles, but everyone else does," he said in a 2018 interview with OKPlayer. "It is frustrating. I try to rely on the humanitarianism of the listen. Meaning, everybody else has those hangs ups on me, but I don’t pay attention to it."
"I definitely move to the beat of my own drummer and man, he's not playing something anyone has heard before."
"I like abstraction. I like contortion … It's still truth. But it's truth through the center of the individual."
"We have to realize our power. Individually, we are a strength, but as a unit, we are a mic.If they want to keep playing with the third rail – see this is why I don’t like doing interviews, I got a big mouth sometimes, but it’s the truth."
"Hope means not shrinking from a fight; it's the courage to reach for something. My music is that. Those are principles I try to embody."
"My thing is that I don’t want to be one-dimensional," he said to COMPLEX in 2015. "There are a lot of cats out there who are extremely good at one thing and that’s it."
"When I said 'don’t need a billboard hit for me to hit you' – that thinking ties into the logic behind ‘Soundcloud rap’ as well. Those lyrics were about showing rappers that there are other pathways and conduits to reach your audience...I wanted to show there was a different path to success.”