Yeah, sorry, no. I mean, “Excursions” is a great song, and it was a great idea to withhold the drums as long as they did. And the bass line of “Buggin’ Out” is the album’s fat and phat. And the saxophone hook on “Check the Rhime” is addicting. But why not just go straight to the source material – funk and jazz – where you’ll be subject to richer bass lines and more? Is it the rapping? Doubtful. Let’s be honest here: Q-Tip gets by on how good his melodious voice sounds over the deep bass lines; his flow sounds the same from one song to the next, his rhymes are basic and his use of literary devices isn’t exactly A-grade. Meanwhile, Phife Dawg;s his flow is also about the same from one song to the next, his rhymes are also basic and his use of literary devices also isn’t exactly A-grade, but to add to that, his voice doesn’tsound good on said beats; it’s almost adorable how hard he tries when he introduces himself on “Buggin’ Out.” So the album’s fans will tell you just to just chill and listen to those beats but most of these songs aren’t inherently that atmospheric (as in, without exogenous help) and, as others have pointed out, the constant beat stopping starts to grate around “Verses From the Abstract.” Yes, the bass lines are often great and the drums do smack hard, but People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm had both those things, but with more colors (compare the album covers to get an accurate representation) and less Phife Dawg, yet it’s not as well-received because it’s not as jazzy?!
Elsewhere, nothing substantial happens on “Rap Promoter” or “The Infamous Date Rape,” where Q-Tip elaborates on what a great guy he is because he doesn’t condone rape; are you fucking serious? That’s not having a consciousness, that’s having common sense. Equally appalling is Phife Dawg’s admission that he used to abuse women on “Butter” but doesn’t offer any evidence that he’s changed at all. Meanwhile, “Everything is Fair” and “Skypager” are interesting only for their sound effects, and the punctuating “UGH!”’s in the latter don’t just knock the song’s momentum off its feet, it sends it straight to shit. I like “What?” enough because of how different it sounds from the rest of the album (it matches the two rappers’ goofiness), but the two full measures of silence from 1:40 – 1:44 doesn’t just knock the song’s momentum off its feet, it sends it straight to shit. So what else do we have left? Busta Rhymes?