Like many people who grew up in the New York tri-state area in the mid 1990s, I was a huge Tribe Called Quest fan. I could say every word to their first three albums in my sleep, I was at their last show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in '98, and I've long joked that my stripper name would be Bonita Applebum (or Sin-o-Men, I go back and forth). Still, while Amplified and The Renaissance were "decent with two hot songs" and "good" respectively, I've never thought to go see Q Tip solo. So when I headed to the House of Blues on Friday for the Chicago stop on the Bacardi B Live tour, I had no idea what to expect. Would he phone it in? Would their be twenty extra dudes onstage as hype men/dead weight (I'm looking at you, Ghostface)?
What I learned on Friday is if you ever get a chance to see this man live, run don't walk to buy tickets. He seemed just as excited to be there as the audience was, both his live band and Scratch sounded great, and how many other MCs can still look cool while shaking a tambourine? Tribe fans weren't disappointed as he got to most of the hits — "Check the Rhime," "Electric Relaxation," "Oh My God," "Find a Way," etc. — although it sounded a little weird when he spit some of Phife Dawg's verses. We all know you're not The Funky Diabetic so why not just skip Phife's verses? The set featured several tracks off The Renaissance and the encore's last song, "Life is Better," brought Q Tip into the audience. Tip handed the mic over to members of the crowd so they could serenade him with Norah Jones' refrain and commanded the house to "sing like we have a new President," then to "sing like our new President's from Chicago." Friday's show went out on a high note and proved exactly why Q Tip has had such longevity in a genre with a notoriously short attention span.