It might be easy to forget that Q-Tip is one of the greatest producers of all time. He was part of the legendary group A Tribe Called Quest and served as their main producer, but the crew wasn't reaching into new sounds as drastically as RZA was with Wu-Tang or Large Professor was with Main Source. In fact, once he went solo, Q-Tip's beats might arguably be better known than the beats he did when he was with Tribe. It only speaks to his talent on the boards that his entire catalog is up there with some of the greatest producers hip-hop has ever seen.
Early on, Tip was cooking crack for artists outside of Tribe. He had one of the best beats on Nas' Illmatic with "One Love," let alone a crazy remix of "The World Is Yours." He produced for Run-D.M.C., Jungle Brothers and Diamond D, all before 1995. He did a couple crazy remixes of Craig Mack, Jungle Brothers and Cypress Hill joints in the mid-1990s. And don't forget how he helped Mobb Deep with the production for their breakout sophomore album, The Infamous. He is indeed a living legend.
We haven't gotten a Q-Tip album since 2009, when the botched released of Kamaal the Abstract tainted the public's view of it. He's been working on a new album called The Last Zulu for at least three years, but there's been no recent news on when we can expect it.
Nonetheless, Q-Tip is still out here blessing the new generation with beats (peep Roc Marciano's "Thread Count" if you don't know). To celebrate his anniversary on earth, here go his best beats. As a disclaimer, we steered away from Tribe stuff (except for one gem) as it was always credited to Tribe the group or the Ummah and focused on Tip's solo production instead. Check out the 20 Best Q-Tip Beats.
"Do It, See It, Be It"Q-Tip
One of the more slept-on cuts from Tip's debut LP yet nonetheless a classic record that stands the test of time, this one still sounds both inimitable and similar to many of the moods in rap today.
"On the Road Again (My Jimmy Weights a Ton)" (Q-Tip Remix)Jungle Brothers
The Native Tongues were a truly unique crew in hip-hop, and here Tip's style fits nicely with the Jungle Bros. This one's a rare gem.
"You"Kendrick Lamar Featuring Q-Tip
This is an experimental sounding track for Tip, again employing keys to perfect effect. It's more emotional than a lot of his production, a little deeper. The skipping production once more sounds like something Dilla would have approved of.
"Chain Heavy"Kanye West Featuring Talib Kweli and Consequence
A dope unreleased Kanye cut from the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy era, this sounds like Tip doing his DOOM impersonation on the boards. It's fire.
The keys here mixed with the shuffle of the percussion on here make for a classic Q-Tip track.
How this only has barely over 1,000 plays on YouTube and it's been up there for over five years is a mystery, but it's nonetheless one of the most jamming beats Tip ever made.
"Thread Count"Roc Marciano
Q-Tip rarely surfaces to do beats for others these days, but when he does he destroys it. That was the case in 2012, when he slid a beat to Roc Marciano for his incredible Reloaded album; "Thread Count" is a highlight from the LP.
This beat sounds like something Dilla would do and it demonstrates how much influence the two had on one another.
"Get Down (Remix)"Craig Mack
Back in '94, Tip was remixing grimy joints like this Bad Boy track from Craig Mack's first album, Project: Funk da World. This is one of his cleanest beats ever, so you have to wonder what other MCs like Biggie and Mase would have sounded like over Abstract beats at the time.
"Left & Right"D'Angelo Featuring Redman & Method Man
D'Angelo always did well over hip-hop beats and killer verses from Red and Meth don't hinder him from keeping up his track record. Rap nerds will remember an unreleased Jaylib song that later sampled this track too.
The second single from Q-Tip's debut album, Amplified, wasn't quite as big as his first, but it still packed the same crossover punch that he had perfected on the album.
"Good to Go"Grand Puba Featuring Q-Tip
This is definitely the most surprising cut on this whole list, but Tip quietly slid the God MC Puba a groovy beat in 2005. Five seconds in and you'll know what we're talking about; Abstract really knows how to get in the pocket with his production.
Intended for The Renaissance, this cut didn't make it but still has a fresh feel to it.
"Glamour and Glitz"A Tribe Called Quest
In 1995, a documentary called The Show was released featuring a bunch of big-time rappers of the era. A slamming soundtrack came with it, including this Tribe loosie that features one of Tip's greatest beats.
The song that turned Q-Tip into a pop star/sex icon á la D'Angelo, "Vivrant Thing" was the first single from Amplified and ended up launching Tip into a whole other stratosphere outside of Tribe. It still gets people moving to this day.
"Who Planned It"Tiger Featuring Q-Tip
Here's another slept-on gem from '93. Tip didn't give away many beats, but here he gave away some fire.
"Listen"Q-Tip Featuring Heavy D
This crossing of legends is an excellent test of what can happen when they collide. A snippet of this Tip and Heavy D collab surfaced in 1999, and it still sounds fresh today.
"The World Is Yours" (Q-Tip Mix)Nas
The year Illmatic dropped, Nas released the single "The World Is Yours" produced by Pete Rock, but heads took note of the incredible b-side: a remix to the song produced by Q-Tip with slightly altered vocals. Ever since, it's been treasured as one of the best beats Q-Tip's hands ever crafted.
This 1997 white label was the first single Q-Tip ever put out, though it wasn't under that moniker. He went under The Lone Ranger for this release, perhaps due to some contractual issues. Nonetheless, this remake of the T La Rock classic is a total delight.
"One Love"Nas Featuring Q-Tip
Production wise, "One Love" is a standout from Nas' Illmatic, as well as being a narrative centerpiece of the album. Q-Tip was behind the track, thus cementing his status as one of the greatest producers to ever do it.