Stop complaining that this album is not People's Instinctive Travels or Low End Theory because that's not even what they're trying to do. I think they are trying to change their sound and project a more mature and modern image, as is represented in the well done but completely unexpected album cover design that probably alienated a lot of fans. That being said, I don't know whether they completely succeeded in their image transformation (which got off to a good start with Beats Rhymes and Life). Although Q-Tip, as always, has very strong artistic intent, I think he has gotten worse as a rapper, or at least incredibly uneven, because he gets away with saying some very weak rhymes. Phife, on a couple songs, seems distracted or disinterested during the call and response, like he got woke up to make the album and was just trying to sound good. The group does have some great moments, which are improved further by the constant appearances of Busta Rhymes, who is one of rap's most consistently jaw-dropping acrobats. Some of the other guests seem out of place, like Noreaga, and the guitar thing is just OK.
I think Q-Tip's UMMAH production thing works well. The beats on this album are very different than most of the previous work, but the concept for this album's sterile and laid back backing tracks is far more solid than the lyrics spit over them ("make me feel special like a prominent man"). Also, most of the bonus tracks are great, but I think maybe they were just trying to release all their stuff to get out of their record deal, not looking forward to the two or three subsequent albums of rereleased tracks that reeked of commericalism.