Late yesterday HipHopDX.com was granted the hip-hop honor of an exclusive conversation with Q-Tip, where among other things the fallout from “Fiascogate” [click here for all the details] was an obvious topic of discussion.
“I don’t have any beef with Lupe Fiasco,” Tip says matter-of-factly regarding any suggestion being made that he is angry with the Chi-Town MC because he forgot the lyrics to 2 bars of an 8-bar section of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation” during a tribute to the group at last week’s VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. “Tribe doesn’t [have any beef with Lupe]. We are appreciative of his performance.”
The exact origin of that performance has since come into question following Lupe’s public proclamation that Q-Tip handpicked him to participate in the tribute to Tribe, a claim the abstract poet flatly denies. “VH1 asks who you want to honor you,” Tip begins, breaking down how Lupe ended up in the show, “and we came up with Mos Def, who at the last minute cancelled, Common, Kanye, but then his schedule changed, and Busta…Actually, it was [Lil’] Wayne, Kanye, Common and Mos.”
But since Lil’ Wayne couldn’t, or simply wouldn’t, attend the festivities in New York due to the gun possession charge he was hit with while performing in NYC back in July, VH1 asked Tip to name additional artists he would like to see in the Tribe tribute, to which he suggested Pharrell. “And then they was like, ‘Well, he’s honoring Snoop, so he may not be able to do it. What about Talib or Lupe or somebody like that?,’” Tip explains. “And I was like, ‘Oh, Lupe would be cool.’ I was like thinking of the irony, because I read something that somebody sent me that he said he never heard a Tribe Called Quest record and never heard Midnight Marauders, nor had any intention [of hearing it]. So when his name came up I was like, ‘Okay, Lupe.’ I never called him and told him I wanted him to do it. I didn’t beg him to do it. It went just like that.”
“Then we all spoke on the phone with VH1,” continues Tip, “in a creative conversation, and everybody seemed cool. I got there the day of [the performance] and [I was] told that Lupe had some problems with the lyrics. So then I went to his trailer, just trying to extend myself, and I was like, ‘So I understand that you never heard a Tribe Called Quest joint?’ He smiled and said, ‘Well that’s not true. My sister used to listen to it. I didn’t really [listen to it], but my sister had the album with all the faces on it.’”
While Q-Tip remains adamant that he is okay with Lupe’s lyric fumbling [“No big deal, people mess up lyrics,” he reiterates], he is not as understanding of Lupe’s recently revealed rationale for his poor performance, that reasoning being that Lupe’s early hip-hop inspiration came from the hardcore street narratives of Spice 1 and 8Ball & MJG, and not from “the album with all the faces on it.”
“I applaud him for his honesty,” says Tip of Lupe’s explanation. “But I will say that Spice 1 and Geto Boys were making records at the same time we was. And when we used to do shows with them, Spice 1 and all those dudes would be knowing Tribe lyrics, and vice versa. So contrary to I guess maybe somebody like Lupe, people listen to other types of music. People don’t say I have no interest in listening to different types of music. But that’s his opinion and he’s entitled to it.”
Q-Tip has since spoken to the “talented young lion,” as he calls Lupe, to get additional clarification on the rising star’s post-performance comments. “I called him and I said, ‘You know, I just wanted to speak to you man-to-man so you know that I don’t have no beef with you,’” Tip reveals, “And he was like, ‘They attacking me.’ He explained himself to me, and I listened. We spoke about doing a tour together actually.”
While Tip and Lupe appear to have squashed any potential war of words that could have erupted between the two in the past few days, many other artists added their two cents on the issue via the Okayplayer message boards since this whole ordeal began. Phonte of Little Brother has gotten much attention for his words regarding the situation. Coming from a place of "respect and concern", Phonte offers "I'm an artist so I understand how we all go through our times of arrogance and flat out niggotry, but seriously, now is not the time for this. You had a fuck up and there's really no one to blame but yourself," in response to Lupe defending himself on Okayplayer.com [Click Here To See Thread].
“Oh word? I didn’t know anything about that,” replies Q-Tip when asked for his thoughts on ‘Te’s online assault on ‘Pe. “But if Lupe wants to make those [statements] he’s gonna have to deal with the repercussion of it, whether it be positive or negative. And it looks like he’s probably getting a smattering of both.”
“Honestly, my mind frame is elsewhere,” Tip continues, clearly having had his fill of talking about Fiascogate. He is now turning his attention to the February 12th release of his long-awaited sophomore solo album, The Renaissance. “It’s a little bit more hip-hop,” Tip says, reassuring those who might have been expecting a more non-traditional, avant-garde album from one of hip-hop’s original genre benders. “It’s still got some shit in there, some different feelings in there. But it’s definitely hip-hop derived and hip-hop centered. And I’m really excited about it.”
Die-hard Tribe Called Quest fans would be most excited if Tip’s Renaissance boasted new Tribe tracks, but he remains committed to a group re-reunion only taking place when the whole group can be present to participate. “You know Phife has been sick,” Tip reminds those unfamiliar with the physical struggles the “funky diabetic” has endured of late while undergoing dialysis and awaiting a kidney transplant. “And out of respect to him and his health and his privacy for a long time I’ve never really addressed it. But a lot of people were always asking me, ‘Why won’t Tribe get back [together]?’ You know, we did the tour last year, and recently things got bad with him health-wise and people kept asking [about a reunion album], but it’s not like I could’ve just came out and said [what was going on], out of respect to him. But he has to get better first and foremost.”
Until his partner-in-rhyme can be back by his side Q-Tip will carry on the ATCQ legacy via his solo works. In addition to the early ’08 release of The Renaissance – a video for the album’s next single, “Fever,” is forthcoming – Tip will be making his Andre 3000-esque comeback complete in the coming weeks with his own Mick Boogie-backed mixtape, as well as an additional pre-album treat helmed by Green Lantern and Statik Selektah entitled The 21 Breakbeats of Death, wherein which Tip will be spittin’ over classic hip-hop breaks.
Who knows, maybe someday in the near future a “talented young lion” will pay homage to Tip and Tribe by putting out a mixtape of his own reinterpretations of the classic tracks on Midnight Marauders. “I was talking to Snoop backstage,” Tip begins, launching into one last thought regarding Fiascogate before the end of our conversation. “We were talking about the whole [Lupe] thing because Midnight Marauders and 36 Chambers came out on the same day. And then the following week Snoop’s [Doggystyle] album came out.”
“Damn, that was a month! I wish Lupe could’ve been there to see it,” this writer said jokingly. To which Q-Tip simply replied, “No comment.”