TQ was once the vocal talk of the town, with his smash hit ‘Westside’ blowing up spots across the world back in 1998. Since then the Compton, California singer’s had a few lesser known hits, enjoyed a stint at Cash Money Records and released numerous independent projects. Still riding the indie artist route TQ unleashes his seventh studio LP, Legendary.
Following a mixtape of the same name, Legendary is a mixture of soulful hip-hop, acoustic R&B and electronic pop. With hit and miss moments throughout, TQ has the potential to break back into the commercial market but always seems to be just one hit away. Kicking things off, “No Better Love,” which hears rap assistance from Gilly The Kid, is a braggadocios showing of machoism over a catchy yet occasionally stale backdrop.
On the plus side, TQ’s lyrics are very believable. When he sings, “Nobody gonna love you better,” listeners – women in particular – might relate to the singer’s charm. The same can be said about his Prince-ode “Nikki Ray” [think “Darling Nicki”]. Whilst not instrumentally strong, the way TQ teases the listener with his story of sexually rampant lust is explicitly mind blowing.
Stronger moments on the album come when the crooner teams up with Mystikal and Mannie Fresh on the single “Bad Man.” Probably the most upbeat moment on the album, it has a ’70s feel to it whilst bridging the gap between the west and south through the use of Fresh’s sped up bounce-based production and TQ’s street talking prowess. With Mystikal on the comeback trail himself, his second verse is a little hard to understand – but then again who cares? His passionate delivery is enough to get listeners excited.
Incorporating an electric guitar in to the mix, “I Wish” plays as an inspiring uptempo number that hears TQ spin Nas’ “If I Ruled The World” into his own record. Wishing for things like flying like Superman, with an attractive hook and an uncomplicated slice of production, “I Wish” hears TQ do what he does best; taking everyday situations and putting an uplifting vocal spin on them.
Happy to be a spokesperson for his State, each one of the Compton vocalist’s albums features some sort of dedication to California; Legendary is no different. “California Dreamin’” is a soothing, almost Country-sounding acoustic number. Taking a backseat to the huge stadium high note delivery that he favours on occasions, the song hears TQ tell various west coast street tales. The combination of instrumental prominence and low-key storytelling makes the track one of the album’s most memorable.
A fan of experimentation, there are times on Legendary that hears the singer get ahead of himself just a little bit. “Star” is an uncontrollable sporadic mess production-wise. Not able to concentrate on the vocals because the backing track is so wild, it’s definitely not the TQ fans of his previous works are accustomed to. Whilst playing around with some rock influences [“Good Love” and “Long Kiss Goodnight” hear an almost Lenny Kravitz meets Prince mashup come to life], the truth is vocally TQ is deep rooted in soul and he can kick the hell out of any 808. Hearing him step up to the rock plate is a pleasure to witness.