By now, if you know much about Q-Tip, you’ve surely read up about how trying this decade has been on his career. Trying to follow up on his solo debut Amplified, which came out in 1999, Q-Tip decided to get more experimental, only to see his efforts shelved while Outkast and Common released strange albums in the years following, to critical acclaim. It wasn’t until last year that we finally saw the release of The Renaissance that his musical career got feet again. Luckily for us, Jive and Battery have finally grown a pair and let Kamaal the Abstract see the light of day. Just a few seconds in to the album, and you’ll see that this is not a straight-up commercial hip hop release, which is what scared the label guys back in ‘02. A few seconds more into it, and you start to see that Q-Tip was doing something pretty interesting with this Jazz/R&B hybrid project. I don’t know if I’d use words like mind-blowing or ground-breaking, but it is certainly interesting, enjoyable and rewarding. For the album, Q-Tip recruited a live band featuring Jonathan Blake, Guyora Kats, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Sholar, and Kevin Sholar, with Aisha Morris and Sun Singleton on vocals. In a way, the album to me sounds a little like Q-Tip wanted to record his own version of She, another album that people don’t seem to really know what to do with, but I think is great. If anything, I appreciate that this album doesn’t sound much like anything in my record collection. It retains a hip hop swagger, but also isn’t afraid to indulge in long trumpet, flute, or keyboard solos. It certainly isn’t too timid to attempt a Stevie Wonder-esque choral piece in “Caring.” I think that if I was going to sum up Kamaal, I’d use a phrase that Tip uses a lot in “Even If It Is So” - “Let’s build.” This is an album that you can really get lost in, and discover new things on repeated listening. Seriously, people - why are we trying to stifle creative experimentation from an artist that has been rewarding listeners since 1990? If Q-Tip wants to make another Kamaal, I’ll gladly listen to it. I just hope it won’t take me seven years to hear it.