Q-Tip at 9:30 Club
It doesn't matter that rapper Q-Tip no longer creates music with the group that made him famous, A Tribe Called Quest, or that his home town of Queens is no longer hip-hop's cultural center. At the 9:30 club Sunday night, Tip showed that Linden Boulevard still represents.
The MC performed as headliner of the 2K9 Bounce Tour, along with hipster-hop favorites Pacific Division, the Knux and the Cool Kids, and enthralled the D.C. crowd with material from his new disc, "The Renaissance."
On the album, Q-Tip mixes the hip-hop devices of his youth (turntables, Akai MPC drum machine) with more traditional instrumentals and grown-up lyrics in a way that showcases hip-hop's creative maturity, as well as his own. He performed Tribe material both popular ("Bonita Applebum," "Electric Relaxation") and lesser-known ("Verses From the Abstract," "God Lives Through") -- and briefly flashed back to his 1999 solo effort "Amplified" -- but the new disc dominated.
The percolating "Move," which samples the Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine," and "Shaka" and "Gettin' Up" sound good coming from car speakers and headphones but were even better when aided by a live band and former EPMD turntablist DJ Scratch. Q-Tip's singing voice was crackly and strained when he sang "Life Is Better," but it was a small quibble considering that he's an MC, not a mezzo-soprano. Besides, when he jumped in the crowd and crooned "Life is better/Since I found you," it was obvious the feeling was mutual.
-- Sarah Godfrey