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Your Horoscope According To Shit Q-Tip Did

Look to the stars for thoughtful insight into your month ahead.

by Ben Boddez

Illustration by Erik Grice

Q-Tip is easily one of hip-hop’s most influential figures of all time, whether you’re speaking about his production work, his days in A Tribe Called Quest or his solo career.

This Aries season, we’re paying homage to one of the sign’s most legendary figures by looking back on some of his greatest moments. This is your horoscope according to shit Q-Tip did.

(March 21 – April 19)

The collaborative partnership between Q-Tip and lifelong friend Phife Dawg inarguably made for one of hip-hop’s most iconic duos, but without Q-Tip’s Aries-like leadership, confidence and passion, he might have been going it alone after the release of A Tribe Called Quest’s debut studio album. After being diagnosed with diabetes – and already with a reputation for not having the greatest track record when it came to attending the collective’s studio sessions – Phife Dawg was strongly considering stepping away from ATCQ until Q-Tip convinced him otherwise, with the reasoning that he wanted the group to “step it up” after breaking onto the scene. Creating the iconic album The Low End Theory together, the pair ultimately made magic with a level of chemistry that stands the test of time. Aries, check in on your friends this month – there’s no stopping you together. 

(April 20 – May 20)

There’s a reason why your zodiac animal is that of a bull, Taurus – sometimes you simply aren’t able to take no for an answer, forging ahead for better or for worse. In Q-Tip’s case, it was certainly for the better. After breaking out into a solo career with his debut album, 1999’s Amplified, Q-Tip started working on something a little more in line with his constantly inventive and experimental self – a more neo-soul driven project featuring his newly-recruited live band and a lot of singing, titled Kamaal The Abstract. With Arista Records in a period of turnover, newly appointed label boss LA Reid felt the project was too bizarre to sell, leaving it scrapped for seven years. After continuing to press onward and release more music, always with the album in the back of his mind, it was finally released as his third studio album in 2009, ultimately becoming a bit of a cult classic. Taurus, it’s always best to remember that a no, or three, or fifteen, is far from being the end of the journey.

(May 21 – June 20)

Being the sign of the twins, there’s always more than one side to a Gemini – musically, however, Q-Tip has about twenty. Despite being a respected pioneer in his own right of his signature sound, he’s also rapped on an experimental rock tune with Jack White, produced for artists ranging everywhere from Mariah Carey to jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and won his first (and somehow, only) Grammy for his appearance on a dance track with The Chemical Brothers – plus, who could omit his verse on legendary one-hit wonder “Groove Is In The Heart?” The latter houses our advice for you this month, Gemini – while many might look back on 1990’s biggest club anthem as a cheesy relic of another time, it would still fill a dance floor 34 years later. One man’s cheese is another’s delightful earnestness – don’t be afraid to embrace your inner cornball. 

(June 21 – July 22)

Cancers often have a reputation for being great parents, due to their naturally nurturing personalities. While Q-Tip does have two children of his own, a fellow legend behind the boards alluded to him having quite a few more in a different sense entirely. Casually dropping that he believes three of the most influential producers of all time wouldn’t have been anywhere if it weren’t for Q-Tip and his innovative sample flips, Pharrell Williams once stated that he, Kanye West and J Dilla were all Q-Tip’s sons, stating “we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Tribe album.” As Skateboard P credited him for an extensive musical knowledge and an ability to look past the obvious titans of the genres and movements they were drawing from, Q-Tip’s legacy can be seen as starting massive hip-hop family trees. You have great things to offer, Cancer – try teaching someone else your ways and seeing where it takes them. 

(July 23 – August 22)

We mentioned Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” earlier, but it can’t be overstated just how much A Tribe Called Quest’s arrival on the pop culture scene was a breath of fresh air in an early 90s musical climate that made “Everybody Dance Now” a global phenomenon and allowed Mark Wahlberg to be a pop superstar. The band’s 1991 performance of “Can I Kick It?” on Yo! MTV Raps is heralded as one of hip-hop’s greatest televised outings, mostly because of how Q-Tip acts almost like a seasoned conductor, cuing in improvisatory moments from the band as they follow his lead – not to mention the palpable energy and camaraderie that transcended TV screens as they led the audience through the classic call-and-response. He cemented himself as the band’s de facto Leo-style leader, and if anyone is wondering if they, too, can kick it this month, Leo, you already know how to respond.

(August 23 – September 22)

A Virgo is all about the details – and for an aspiring hip-hop producer in the mid-1980s unable to afford any fancy equipment, producing beats with the art of pause tapes and cassette decks certainly requires that kind of superhuman attention to detail. Already focused on the future in the tenth grade, Q-Tip produced some of hip-hop’s most iconic beats as a teenager on his pause tapes, ultimately creating every beat that appears on A Tribe Called Quest’s 1990 debut, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, which featured smash hit “Can I Kick It?” Crafting the bones of a hip-hop classic before ever even entering a proper studio – which he did in 1988 while working on The Jungle Brothers’ Straight Out The Jungle – Q-Tip’s talent was obvious from the very beginning. Virgo, if there’s a long-dormant project you started a while ago, it might be time to see it through. 

(September 23 – October 22)

Tribe’s sophomore album, The Low End Theory, is recognized as one of the genre’s most enduring and influential, but some of the truly adulatory comments that it received at the time make it clear just how powerful it was for Q-Tip and his groupmates to bring together two of the most distinctive and revolutionary Black musical art forms: hip-hop and jazz. A book titled Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide dubbed it “a consummate link between generations, showing they originated from the same Black centre,” while Rolling Stone noted that although people had already “connected the dots” between the two genres, Tribe were the ones to “[draw] the entire picture” for the first time. Libra, you already know that Q-Tip managed to balance the scales. Take some advice from its iconic closing track, “Scenario” – “Sit back, relax and let yourself go. Don’t sweat what you heard, but act like you know.”

(October 23 – November 21)

Q-Tip has always been known as a workhorse and a perfectionist, possessing the focus and intensity of some of Scorpio’s greatest. Currently known to be working on at least three separate studio albums simultaneously – titled The Last Zulu, AlGoRhythms, and Riotdiaries – a 2018 interview saw him stating that he doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. “I ain’t stopping. I am too talented. I will do this to my death,” he said. “I am going to be like James Brown or Louis Armstrong or Prince; they did music until they couldn’t do it anymore and were gone. I will probably keel over my drum machine.” While Q-Tip’s sentiment might seem a little intense for the average person, there’s something to be said about pushing out every possible inch of something that you’re passionate about. If you can’t see yourself at retirement age doing what you’re doing now, it might be time for a change. 

(November 22 – December 21)

We all know that Q-Tip and Phife Dawg’s enduring friendship was one for the ages, but it actually started all the way back when both of the legendary rappers could barely speak, let alone drop some bars together. Revealed in the documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, the two met at church when they were only two years old, forming the kind of early union that could have them mistaken for two baby Sagittariuses. The duo ultimately progressed to rapping together at the age of nine after being inspired by early hip-hop trailblazer “Rapper’s Delight.” Sagittarius, if you’ve fallen out of touch with some of your earliest connections, it might be time to renew them – you never know where they could take you. 

(December 22 – January 19)

Q-Tip picked up a reputation for being a sampling wizard over the course of his career, completely innovating what it meant to draw from sounds of the past and flip them for groundbreaking use in the future. Of course, someone with such extensive musical knowledge had to have a respectable record collection, but a 1998 fire at his home recording studio completely destroyed 20 thousand of his beloved vinyls. Instead of sulking, Q-Tip tapped into his Capricorn ambition and hard-working attitude, choosing to view it as “symbolic.” Still with a raging desire to create music but without his typical means, Q-Tip recruited a live band and learned piano and drums, taking all of his new discoveries out on the road while touring The Love Movement. Capricorn, remember that some of your greatest tragedies can turn into your greatest blessings.

(Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)

An Aquarian can develop a reputation for being a bit of the bookworm or the academic amongst their group of friends, and despite still being hard at work on more music, Q-Tip has followed your lead into his late career by taking up a position as a professor of a jazz and hip-hop course at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. In a 2018 interview with NME, the interviewer fortuitously compared the hip-hop elder statesman’s pursuits to that of a “hip-hop Yoda,” something that proved more true than could be expected when Q-Tip revealed that the moniker was actually his official NYU email address. Aquarius, tap into your inner Yoda this month – wise, serene, yet still capable of becoming a complete badass when necessary.

(February 19 – March 20)

Pisceans are lovers at heart, appreciative of all, but they also know that their own creativity deserves the respect to stand on its own. Q-Tip couldn’t have shown off this mentality any better than when a 2008 solo performance of “Vivrant Thing” at Vegas’ House of Blues was crashed unexpectedly by none other than Prince. DJ Scratch has insisted that nobody knew Prince was present – and his reaction to his appearance the video seems genuine enough – so it makes it all the more impressive that Q-Tip maintained his cool and professionalism, finishing his verse strong while Prince, in his Prince way, simply decided to take the nearest guitar and add some of his own flair before walking back off as unceremoniously as he arrived, mid-song. It’s a moment that proved just how much respect Q-Tip commanded in more ways than one. Pisces, don’t let anything, no matter how cool, throw you off your game this month.