For some reason rappers have an awful tendency to lose their minds or make bad music once they reach a certain point in their careers. However, every now and then you find an exception. With the unreleased 2001 Kamaal The Abstract album ready to finally drop, a tour with The Knux, Pac-Div and The Cool Kids, DJ shows on the side, and a non-exploitive Michael Jackson birthday tribute this weekend, its safe to say Q-Tip is both sane and very busy.

In the midst of all the chaos that makes up his schedule, Tip found time to kick it with Complex and watch some videos on YouTube, just like you and your friends do. Only our friend is Q-Tip and neither of us were high. Read on for Q's commentary on his visit from Tupac on the set of Poetic Justice, Michael Jackson's short film Ghost, and his favorite politician, Mike Bloomberg...

Interview by Andrew Rivera


Q-TIP: Is this when I get my cap peeled? By the homies? [Laughs]. It was cool making this film. We were in Simi Valley and the Rodney King verdict came in that day. It took us forever to get back to LA because of the riots. So it was pretty intense being out there. We saw shit burning and people looting and wildin' out in the streets and shit. It was crazy.

COMPLEX: How was working with Janet Jackson?

Q-TIP: Oh great, Janet is just you know, so professional. She's been acting since she was a kid. It was just great. Tupac was there when we were shooting that scene and when we did the first kiss, 'Pac was like, "Yeah nigga, I know you gonna fuck up again, right?" [Laughs] And I was like, "You motherfuckin' right, nigga!" I'll never forget it. Then he was like "Damn, nigga!" you know how Pac was, and he was watching it and just left for a cigarette because he said he couldn't watch it anymore.

COMPLEX: So are you saying 'Pac was envious?

Q-TIP: Nah, we were just goofing around. But all my boys from the 'hood were like, "Dude, what was that like? What's up with you kissing on Janet?" [Laughs] But of course everyone is going to ask that.



Q-TIP: It looks like it was me and Mase! [Laughs] My man, Sean. People who saw that video were like, "Damn, I wish I was there." What's crazy was that day it was supposed to rain and we wound up getting blessed with beautiful weather and he was hitting me up about the show. He was hitting me up the day before saying things like "I'm gonna be in Central Park, nigga! Get ready!" You know how he is, he's just extra. So he says, "I don't give a fuck! Get ready 'cause I'm fucking coming! You better come with your motherfucking A-game!" and all this crazy shit. So he came and he was just chilling and he caught the feeling.

COMPLEX: Wait, so you didn't know that he was going to come up on stage and start dancing?

Q-TIP: No, he just caught the feeling. [Laughs]


Q-TIP: Oh Deee-Lite? She was at the show that Diddy was dancing at.

COMPLEX: Did you invite her?

Q-TIP: She just came. I haven't seen this in forever. [Laughs] I think that was '88 or '89?

COMPLEX: The big scene back then was house music. With new artists like Kid Cudi and Wale experimenting with house music and fast paced beats, do you see a comeback for house?

Q-TIP: Yeah there's a lot of fast records. 120 BPM records. I mean things just comeback in the circle, you know? So if these cats doing it now, I say yeah, definitely there is kind of a re-birth. Even as a DJ I can see the tempos are just getting faster and faster and faster. My theory as to why its coming back is videos came into play in the '80s and '90s and there was a lot of dance music that was popular. Now that we have the Internet, whenever kids check out old school music videos it turns out a lot of those songs are tempo sounding, dance songs. You don't really get anything that pre-dates '82 or '84 music videos. From those years on, there was just a lot of dance music so I think that whole retro vibe comes from that. Also, people just love to dance. People love to party, so there are a lot more DJs and that kind of music. Especially now where it's easier to learn how to be a DJ with all this new technology. So the music falls right into play.



Q-TIP: Oh with Mos Def? [Laughs]

COMPLEX: Yes, has Mos told you anything about this?

Q-TIP: No, he keeps this quiet [Laughs] I don't know why. When I found out about it I was like "Yeah, man." and his response is always "Shut up!"

COMPLEX: You have a Michael Jackson birthday tribute show coming up, is that something you feel like you needed to do?

Q-TIP: Yeah, he's just beyond measure. So you have to. Its gonna be a fun party. We're gonna celebrate the man.

COMPLEX: Where were you when you found out about his death?

Q-TIP: I was in Norway. We were on stage performing and we got the text. After I got that text I had to stop the show and people thought it was a joke a first. I heard some people screaming and others were laughing like, get out of here. I just walked off stage and everybody realized it and they were all just stuck. So I went back stage and I called Janet and asked her if it was true and she was just like yeah, he's not here anymore. It was just crazy.

COMPLEX: It was pretty crazy. People were yelling all these things about Michael and making t-shirts the day of or day after...

Q-TIP: You know what's even crazier then that? I mean people die everyday but all the people of note that have died this year. It's like, "holy crap!" dudes are just droppin'. It's just a weird year, and of course what's going on economically. Its just a different time. What I always remember was that the artists spoke on what was going on and lead the way in terms of the temperature and the barometer of the spirit and the emotion of the people. Hip-Hop and punk rock were the voices of opposition to any status quo or spoke on what was going on in an honest way. I feel like hip-hop has been emasculated. Like these niggas don't want to rock the boat, they just want to do what they want to do, ride the wave, get whoever is hot, make the right song, make the right money and shut up.



COMPLEX: How does it feel to see young groups like The Knux who are influenced by what you Tribe was doing?

Q-TIP: It's an amazing feeling. If you would've asked me years ago if all this would be going on, I would've looked at you like you were a crazy dude. I'm still trying to understand it. I'm truly humbled by it.

COMPLEX: How was touring with The Knux and The Cool Kids?

Q-TIP: Oh, I loved doing that, that shit was a blast. Pac-Div was on there too, man, that shit was dope. What I tell all those dudes is to love the music and stay entrenched in the music and that will guide you to success. If you start focusing on all that shit success brings you, whether its money, drugs, girls or men, or whatever the fuck that's external you start to lose your way. As long as you got people to keep you in check and you focus on your craft, I don't think you're going to have a problem. Just love what you do and be honest with it.

COMPLEX: Musically, who are you really feeling right now?

Q-TIP: Pac-Div, The Cool Kids, Kid Cudi, Consequence, Kanye, there's this kid called Spree Wilson that I really like a lot, and this group called The Losers.



COMPLEX: You've been very vocal on your Twitter account about Michael Bloomberg. What do you say to those who give you criticism about it?

Q-TIP: It's a free country and I have the right to express my opinion. I'm not degrading him or calling him an asshole or tearing him down personally. I'm just commenting on the bad job that I think he's doing. When you get power the person that you've always been gets highlighted even more, and I think who he is, is showing through how he's running the city, especially with the quality of life. He's not running a city based on the quality of life of average folk, it's the quality of life of well-to-do rich folk. He's fashioning and shaping the city towards them. The thing about New York that makes it the satellite city to the rest of the world is that whole idea of a melting pot. With poverty and homelessness here, it makes me wonder, where is the social responsibility? Where's the emotional and psychological responsibility that you owe to your city and its contingent? Its not there and he's running it like a tyrant.

<strong>COMPLEX: So what do you do in that type of situation?

Q-TIP: This is where hip-hop needs to be again. I don't want to see some benefit and he's [Mike Bloomberg] there and he's shaking hands with Russell or shaking hands with 50 Cent or something like that. We're the rebels, you know what I'm saying? If 50 wasn't there or I wasn't there or Russell wasn't there, we would still be in the hood! I'm lucky because I'm in that tax bracket that he's trying to cater to. So I benefit, I guess, but then not really. If I want to continue to do business here, have my family here and raise my kids here, I'm gonna want my kids to be cultured and really feel like they can go everywhere and not be intimidated, but he's sectioning shit off in a really scary way. Its a police state basically. It started with Giuliani and he's carrying the torch.

Also Watch