We look at one of J Dilla’s first forays into a more “commercial” sound, with Q-Tip’s Amplified.
J Dilla’s inclusion into the ATCQ clan, forming the production team The Ummah, was unfortunately ill-timed as the group tensions began to rise until they disbanded in 1998. However, this wasn’t the end of any affiliation between Dilla and the group members. In 1999, Q-Tip released his debut solo album, Amplified. The duo dealt with production on all but two tracks, with Dilla, known as Jay Dee back then, sculpting the beats and Q-Tip finishing them off by “adding a kick or bass line“. It was newer territory for Dilla as his work was being put together with more “commercial” sounding material. The vibe might have been different, but he didn’t compromise on quality and style. The album went gold in 2000 but didn’t live up to Tip’s expectations. Maybe people preferred the Tribe Tip or just preferred Jay-Z and Eminem, who had bigger albums by then.
Regardless, Dilla went back to his own unique style and focussed more on the production side, as he explained in a later interview. Tip wouldn’t release another solo album for nine years after Kamaal/The Abstract, originally planned for release in 2001, was shelved by Arista, who didn’t think it would cut it in the charts. It’s a shame the pair couldn’t kick it for one more album before Dilla’s passing or that the public just didn’t warm to them as hoped. I mean, these were two of the best hip hop producers of the 90s/00s.