20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Q-Tip at Central Park Summerstage, 7/18/09 by zegoldst
July 20, 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Scene Around Town | Tags: , , , , ,

Q-Tip played a passionate, energetic set at Central Park on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Peter Ruprecht.

If there had been a roof at Central Park’s Summerstage last Saturday,  Q-Tip would have brought it crashing down.

The Queens-bred rapper has always been an innovator when it comes to hip-hop. From his early days with A Tribe Called Quest to his solo career, Q-Tip has demonstrated an unrivaled talent for taking bits and pieces from all different styles, blending them into unusual, envelope-pushing compositions.

But as good as Q-Tip is on record, his live show — a topsy-turvey journey through old and new songs — is even better.  Q-Tip rapped with poise and passion, spitting every line like he felt it. He danced and jumped across the stage with an energy level unparalleled in this day and age.  And his live band added a dimension that isn’t usually heard in a genre so predictably mechanical.

Q-Tip started his set with “Good Thang” from his newest album, The Renaissance. He then launched into the Tribe Called Quest favorite “Oh My God.” The crowd was really feeling it and wasn’t afraid to let it show, jumping  around and rapping every line to their favorite songs.

Q-Tip stopped rapping for a moment in the middle of his set to do a mini-James Brown tribute by dropping to his knees as he DJ ran over and put a cape on him. Q-Tip also gave shout-outs to his good friends J Dilla and Michael Jackson. He even went as far as to open “Move” with The Jack 5’s “Dancing Machine.”

Diddy even showed up for a brief moment to get into the action but quickly retired backstage after jumping around with Q-Tip and the band. The set ended, all too soon, but Q-Tip wasted no time running back onstage for a two-song encore of “Gettin’ Up” and “Life Is Better.” He came into the crowd for a sing-along of his last song, as his band grooved on the beat for about 10 minutes of beautiful soul.

— Zach Goldstein

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Musicians are Crazy by tjwell01


Musicians, regardless of their genre, are not what you would call normal people.

Michael Jackson reminded us of that with his tragic death. Jackson was an extreme case though. He wasn’t just troubled, he was literally bonkers.  His father stole his childhood by putting him to work in the Jackson 5, and the  rest was history as he developed a severe addiction to plastic surgery and drugs over the course of his life.

Sadly though, a lot of musicians are troubled and disturbed as well, although not many to the point where their noses fall off. Kurt Cobain, Britney Spears, Eminem, Ozzy Osbourne, Elliot Smith, James Brown, James Hetfield and Johnny Cash are a few names on an endless list. Musicians have similar stories that begin with fame and fortune and end with rehab and death. They’re flat-out crazy half the time, but you’ve got to believe their craziness and troubled stories are what make them great artists. An artist doesn’t become a genius through a happy life and ice cream every day. It’s the pain, the struggle and madness that makes a musician truly great. All geniuses, after all, are always crazy before they become geniuses.

Let’s face it. The Michael Jackson we loved and idolized died a long time ago — not last Thursday. That impostor walking around in masks was a zombie. He died in the early 1990s when all his baggage came to bite him in the ass. It’s amazing he lasted this long! But people lose sight of the bigger picture every time a celebrity dies — they forget all the pain and anguish and make them martyrs. Kurt Cobain? He’s a rock God now, but in real life he was a sociopath crackhead.

It’s amazing how disconnected a crazy musician can become from his/her work. Truly crazy people can make magical works of art, and yet people only see the art. All art has a price. Van Gogh? We don’t even need to go there.

It’s rare for musicians to have long lives because their bodies and minds take such beatings. The one outlier is, of course, Keith Richards. He should have died a long time ago, and quite literally looks like grim death.

The saddest part is that a lot of nutty musicians die and never see the true value of their insanity in their art. Michael Jackson was filthy rich before he died, but he left $500 million in debt. You can bet that debt will disappear this year once all of his old albums and merchandise sell off the rack.

–Jett Wells