I’d like to continue the celebration of Black Music Month on Roots Rhythm and Rhyme by featuring some music by another favorite group of mine: A Tribe Called Quest. This group mastered the fusion of jazz and hip hop also known as jazz rap by cleverly incorporating rare jazz samples with heavy bass lines. ATCQ members Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White, were on a different level when it came to song structure and hip hop musical ability. Along with Tips brilliant producing and suave lyrical skills, Phife’s hard core rhymes, and Ali’s virtuoso DJ’ skills, Tribe released some the illest rap songs of the 90s and were pioneers in the Afro-centric era of hip hop, which promoted unity and positive vibes within their music.
They struck a chord with both older and younger audience on their 2nd album, The Low End Theory, which really came to define their laid-back, jazz rap style, and even featured jazz bassist Ron Carter on their hit single “Verses from the Abstract.”
Although I was super young when ATCQ came out, I still claim to be a die hard fan. Ever since I was introduced to their music, I have been advocating for them to reunite, record a new album, and go on tour. (the group disbanded in 1999)
Fortunately, the members are still involved in the music scene with solo projects. Tip is currently signed to Kanye West’ G.O.O.D. Music label and is working on his next solo album, which will be released in 2014. There are talks of a reunion, but until that happens, at least we have a plethora of hip hop classics from the group to consume.
Check out a few songs from Tribe’s first three albums, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, The Low End Theory, and Midnight Marauders.