“The thing about Kamaal The Abstract was right after I did ‘Vibrant Thing’ with Clive Davis (legendary music label head), I told him, ‘I want to come totally left on this next album.’ I wanted to use a live band and make an album that was like how Miles [Davis] did Bitches’ Brew. I knew that Clive had a hand in that album, so I started working on it. It was such an eclectic album…jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop. ’ We were set to release it in 2002, but Clive had got brought out and L.A. Reid came in. I played it for L.A. and he told me he really liked it, so we started sending out copies of Kamaal The Abstract to the press.
We were starting to get good reviews and there was an excitement coming back about the album. But then L.A. tells me, ‘I don’t think I hear a single. Go back and work on some more songs.’ So I went back in the studio to work on more tracks and I played it for him. That’s when I decided, ‘You know what? I don’t think this is going to work.’ I asked for my release from the label because I started seeing L.A. start to change up. But I’m really proud of that album. (Seven years later, Kamaal The Abstract was officially released to the public. Many critics noted that the heavily experimental album, which featured an adventurous Tip showcasing a more melodic vocal range on such tracks as ‘Do You Dig U,’ ‘Blue Girl’ and ‘Caring,’ was a precursor to Andre 3000’s acclaimed 2004 release The Love Below).
I think to have a documentary to represent hip-hop is important. Hip-hop doesn’t have that many. It’s an American artform and it’s time that America accepts it and embraces it. When America does that she embraces the social setting that made the culture spawn out. To tell you the truth, I never really thought to see Tribe or myself in a documentary. I’ve had visions of things, but it was never anything like this. I appreciate the whole positive reaction to the movie (Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest), but I’m not done yet.
Right now, I’m focusing on my new record The Last Zulu. People should expect some good music; that hard shit. I want this album to be very cinematic. I think when people look back at A Tribe Called Quest and the entire Native Tongues we will never be looked at as the first official crew. That goes to the Juice Crew. But Native Tongues will be looked at as being originals. We all kind of linked together because we had the same ideas and beliefs. We never got to do an entire album together, but we had fun. And that’s what I’m still trying to [convey] with my music today.”