The former frontman of A Tribe Called Quest returns after a nine-year leave of absence he never really chose to commence. To the detriment of hip-hop and popular music of all kinds, Q-Tip has been caught in disagreements with record labels that have kept his solo work out of distribution.
The Renaissance is a worthy re-entry. The lead track, "Johnny Is Dead," is a blast of affirming, up-tempo jazz beats, akin to a soul rendition of Steely Dan.
Several guest artists collaborate with Q-Tip on this disc, and the results are uneven. Norah Jones opens the vocals on "Life Is Better," but besides adding star power, her presence does little for one of the album's few monotonous songs.
The synergy with D'Angelo is much better on "Believe," a positive message soul track with beats that are every bit as smooth and relaxed as the raps.
The Renaissance reminds listeners of Q-Tip's greatest strength - the capacity to make music that, like hip-hop itself, thrives on a wide range of styles.