Q-Tip, the Sampling Scientist

When laid out this way, it would appear that the art of the sample, in the mind of Q-Tip, was science. He began by laying out pause tapes in his home until 1989, when he had the opportunity to be present for the recording of De La Soul’s iconic album Three Feet High and Rising. It was in those moments when he was shown around the studio by the in-house recording engineers and afterward was allowed to tinker with all the sampling devices. Seeing his potential and interest, the rapper and producer Large Professor taught him how to use other studio equipment to most effectively hone his sound. Not all young producers have a group of welcoming mentors like Q-Tip had, but not all young producers were as uniquely skilled from their teenage years as Q-tip was, and not all were as willing as Q-Tip to “dig deep in the crates” to search for sounds. Q-Tip was, in many ways, an extension of rap’s early DJs, chipping away at a massive block of music and peeling off only what he needed.

Go Ahead in The Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest, pg.26

By Hanif Abdurraquib


Hanif’s words giving us the viewfinder close-up of Q-Tip’s musical development.

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