5 Songs You Didn’t Know Q-Tip Wrote for Other Artists

In the history of rap music, there is no one smoother than Q-Tip. The 53-year-old New York City artist (born Jonathan William Davis and later known as Kamaal Ibn John Fareed) rose to fame with his group A Tribe Called Quest.

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Known for songs like “Can I Kick It?” and “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” Q-Tip showcases his wry humor, knack for lyrical prowess, sense of music history, and his impact on future generations. Indeed, he’s one of the most important figures in the art form.

[RELATED: American Songwriter’s Top 50 Rappers, One for Each Year of Hip-Hop]

But while Q-Tip and Tribe have a plethora of fans, many might not know that the songwriter has helped pen tracks for other big-name artists. Below, we look into five of those collaborations.

1. “Honey,” Mariah Carey

Written by Puff Daddy, Mariah Carey, Stevie J., Q-Tip

From Mariah Carey’s 1997 album, Butterfly, this song was a major hit for the diva. The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Co-written and co-produced by Q-Tip, the song includes drum production from Q-Tip, who is known as a rapper but is also an accomplished beatmaker. The song began with Carey and Q-Tip working together and then they brought the track to Puff Daddy, who at the time was an incandescent producer. Today, the song is still popular, with Carey singing its sweet and sticky hook:

And it’s just like honey (yeah)
When your love (when your love) comes over me (comes over me)
Oh, baby, I’ve got a dependency
Always strung out
For another taste of your honey (ooh)

It’s like honey when it washes over me
You know sugar never ever was so sweet
And I’m dying for ya
Crying for ya (crying)
I adore ya
One hit of your love affected me (yeah)
And I’m strung out on you, darling
Don’t you see (every night)
Every night and day I can hardly wait
For another taste of honey (honey)

2. “That’s My B**ch,” Jay-Z and Kanye West

Written by Jay-Z, Q-Tip, Kanye West, Justin Vernon, Jeff Bhasker

This song comes from the 2011 co-headlining LP from Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne, though its origins stretch a bit further back when West was working on his 2010 record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The hook for the song is sung by Bon Iver. Q-Tip helped produce the track and was one of several big names on the boards, along with Swizz Beats, Pete Rock, The Neptunes, and RZA from Wu-Tang. The album also features performers like Beyoncé and Frank Ocean. The track opens with an almost-tribal drum beat and on it, Jay-Z raps:

Go harder than a nigga for a nigga, go figure
Told me keep my own money if we ever did split up
How could somethin’ so gangsta be so pretty in pictures?
Ripped jeans and a blazer and some Louboutin slippers
Uh, Picasso was alive he woulda made her
That’s right nigga, Mona Lisa can’t fade her
I mean Marilyn Monroe, she’s quite nice
But why all the pretty icons always all white?

3. “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’,” De La Soul

Written by Prince Paul, Maseo, Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove, Q-Tip

From the 1991 De La Soul album, De La Soul Is Dead, this track includes a verse from Q-Tip, who is one of several guests along with hip-hop icon Russell Simmons. The song, which hit No. 43 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, is celebratory. A perfect, bright party song. Featuring record scratching, myriad samples, and several iconic lyricists, it’s a classic. And on it, Q-Tip opens by rapping a little short story:

Girl meets boy on Thursday night
Boy was high, girl fly like kite
They hold hands until next day
Boy then lets go, hit his way
Boy rules butt, brags to his boys
Erection brings bad boy joys
Boy thinks of that big fat back
Big black fat love, big black fat
Girl calls boy to stand him up on Saturday
Saturday

4. “Get It Together,” Beastie Boys

Written by Q-Tip, Mike D, Ad-Rock, MCA

Q-Tip fans will notice the rapper’s voice that opens the track. It’s a bountiful blend of Q-Tip and his old NYC pals, the Beastie Boys. The Tribe rapper is featured on the album version of the song, which appears on the 1994 LP, Ill Communication, though the official single release does not include him (for some reason). For those unfamiliar with Q-Tip, his verse is a perfect introduction to his smooth, charming, cerebral delivery. Q-Tip opens:

One-two-one-two keep it on
Listen to the shit because we kick it until dawn
Listen to the abstract got it going on
Listen to the ladies come on and let me spawn
All your eggs then you go up the river
Listen to the abstract that freaky nigga

5. “Fine,” Whitney Houston

Written by Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip, Whitney Houston

This song was released as a single on Whitney Houston’s greatest hits compilation, Whitney: The Greatest Hits (2000). It was co-written and co-produced by both Q-Tip and the artist Raphael Saadiq. With a strong, percussive drum beat (akin to a rap song), Whitney delivers the lyrics steadily and powerfully before elevating the energy with her signature full voice. On the crossover song, the iconic vocalist offers:

If ya told me from the start
That you played around, I woulda been fine
Then I woulda played too
And I guess I woulda had a good time
If ya told me from the start
That you played around, I woulda been fine
Then I woulda played too
And I guess I woulda had a good time

Something didn’t feel right
And I wish I knew it
I just could not see your games
I got respect for you
And you put me through it
Why would you bring me so much pain

Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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