Q-Tip Explains The Changes In Hip-Hop That Led To ATCQ’s Breakup

Q-Tip and Elton John have worked together on music. Elton appeared on A Tribe Called Quest’s final album, courtesy of the song “Solid Wall Of Sound.” The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame-inducted British songwriter, singer, and pianist provided additional vocals to the track that sampled his “Bennie And The Jets” song which topped the charts in 1974. Last year, Q-Tip and Demi Lovato covered another mid-’70s Elton cut, 1976’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” collaboration with Kiki Dee.

The Abstract is the latest guest on Sir Elton John’s Rocket Hour Radio on Apple’s Beats 1. The full episode premieres this afternoon (March 21). In clips, the host tells Tip about how much of a fan he has been of Tribe. “I’m so thrilled to do this show with you. A Tribe Called Quest are probably the seminal Hip-Hop band of all time, I think,” asserts John. In another section, John notes, “I remember starting out seeing bands like N.W.A and Public Enemy in London at the Hammersmith Odeon. And then De La Soul and people like that. And it’s just—there’s something wonderful about you guys coming together and all the different members.”

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Elton alludes to the breakup of A Tribe Called Quest. Although the group performed together at times during the 2000s and released one song in 2003, many were astonished by 2016’s reunion album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, dropping just months after the death of Phife Dawg. “We kind of, you know—it gets to the point where it’s like a marriage as every [artist has said] before me. It got a little funky there. But we always loved each other; we all grew up with each other. The times were kind of changing [in the late 1990s]. ‘Cause when we started, [Hip-Hop] was more of a group thing. And then, 10 years later—it’s a very trendy thing, the Hip-Hop [genre] sometimes, [and] it was getting to be a solo man’s game. And we were kind of on the outs and [separating] just happened,” Q-Tip reveals.

In 1999, one year after The Love Movement, he stepped forth with gold-certified solo debut Amplified. Phife Dawg followed with 2000’s Da Ventilation: DA LP. Meanwhile, Ali Shaheed Muhammad went on to co-found Lucy Pearl. In 2004, he dropped his solo, Shaheedullah and Stereotypes. Another founding Tribe member, Jarobi White, formed evitaN with Dres of Black Sheep.

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Elton points to Tribe’s subsequent reunion. “We did [get back together]; we did okay,” Q-Tip responds. He then asks Elton about his early work in the band Bluesology. Tip suggests how challenging group dynamics can be.

Elsewhere in the conversation, Q-Tip updates fans. Approaching a decade since Kamaal The Abstract released, he reveals, “I’m working with Mary J. Blige.” Elton John says he is glad to hear that. “That’s my sis’ right there.” XXL magazine also reports that Q-Tip is collaborating on something with Danny Brown. In another clip, Tip confirms, “I’m working on solo records—plural; I’m working on three records.” For years, Q-Tip has suggested his next solo album would be The Last Zulu.

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For a period, Q-Tip was believed to be signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music. It is unclear if that remains the case.