As A Tribe Called Quest‘s co-founder and frontman, Q-Tip has been the host to some of hip-hop’s most cherished posse cuts. But the Queens rapper and producer is also one helluva guest in his own right. In fact, over the course of more than 30 years, The Abstract has been a crucial (and coveted) cameo for the pillars of every rap era.
While rallying the Native Tongues during hip-hop’s jazz-anchored adolescence, Tip was a fixture in studios across all five boroughs. By 1995 (or right around the time a young J Dilla stumbled up the stairs of his tour bus,) the rapper had already stacked credits on classics from a whos’ who of New York rap royalty, including Mobb Deep, Beastie Boys, The Jungle Brothers, Heavy D, Big Daddy Kane, Black Sheep, and Nas. With the launch of The Ummah in 1996, Tip’s range grew even broader and his collaborators even more iconic, working with Janet Jackson, Prince, and Whitney Houston, under the Dilla-led production banner. And as Neo-Soul brought the worlds of R&B, hip-hop, and spiritual jazz, even closer to one another, Tip was at once a baton-passing forefather and a force on the roster, leading the Soulquarian collective to and through a generation-defining movement with thoughtful writing and face-crunching production.
To honor his 51st lap around the sun, we’re celebrating Q-Tip: The Consummate Collaborator, culling the streaming databanks to collect some of his best assists in one no-skip sequence.
Hear 30 of Q-Tip’s most essential guest verses in the inaugural edition of our new playlist series, Featuring, below.
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