A Tribe Called Quest
Name = A Tribe Called Quest
Background = group_or_band
Origin = New York City,Queens New York
Jazz rap Alternative hip hop
Years_active = 1988–1998
URL = [http://www.atcq.com/ atcq.com]
Current_members = Q-Tip
Phife Dawg Ali Shaheed Muhammad Jarobi White(1988-1990, 2006-)
A Tribe Called Quest is an American hip-hop group, formed in 1988. The group is composed of rapper/producer Q-Tip (Kamal Fareed), rapper
Phife Dawg(Malik Taylor), and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. A fourth member, rapper Jarobi White, left the group after their first album but appears to have rejoined the group since 2006. Along with De La Soul, the group was a central part of the Native Tongues Posse, and enjoyed the most commercial success out of all the groups to emerge from that collective. Their innovative fusing of hip hop and jazz has had a lasting impact on hip hop music, helping to expand the art of hip hop production. Many of their songs, such as " Bonita Applebum", " Can I Kick It?", " I Left My Wallet in El Segundo", "Scenario", " Check the Rhime", and " Electric Relaxation" are regarded as classics of the genre.
They released five albums in ten years, the first three of which were very highly acclaimed, and disbanded in 1998. In 2006, the group reunited and toured the US and plan to release an album after some works in the studio. The group is generally regarded as pioneers of
alternative hip hopmusic [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/atribecalledquest/biography A Tribe Called Quest: Biography : Rolling Stone ] ] , having helped to pave the way for socially aware hip-hop artists. Allmusiccalls them "the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s". [ [http://wm05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dcfixq95ld6e~T1 allmusic ((( A Tribe Called Quest > Biography ))) ] ] In 2005, A Tribe Called Quest received a Special Achievement Award at the Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000979161 Billboard Honors Khan, A Tribe Called Quest ] ] In 2007, the group was formally honored at the 4th VH1 Hip Hop Honors.
Q-Tip and Phife were childhood friends and had grown up together in
St. Albans, Queens. The pair first met Muhammad in Murray Bergtraum High School. Initially, Q-Tiphad been performing as a solo artist (MC Love Child), occasionally teaming up with Muhammad as a rapper/DJ duo. Although the pair frequently made demos with Phife (as Crush Connection), the sports enthusiast was still courting ambitions of playing professional basketball, and remained somewhat reluctant to become a full member of the group, only later relenting after Jarobi also joined, thus making the group a quartet. The group's final name was coined in 1988 by the Jungle Brothers, who attended the same high school as Tribe [ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dcfixq95ld6e~T1 allmusic ((( A Tribe Called Quest > Biography ))) ] ] . Q-Tip made two separate appearances on the Jungle Brothers' classic debut album, " Straight Out the Jungle"; the songs "Black Is Black" and "In Time", respectively. Afrika Baby Bam of the group introduced Q-Tip to De La Soulwhen he took the aspiring artist along to a studio session for the recording of the remix for the group's song "Buddy". Produced by Prince Paul, the remix of "Buddy" was to be an all-round Native Tongue affair, and the eccentric producer encouraged Q-Tip to contribute to the now-classic record.
Around this time, thanks to Q-Tip's distinctive vocal style and creative rhymes as a guest artist, Tribe began to generate a lot of interest amongst record label talent scouts.Fact|date=December 2007 In early 1989 they signed a demo deal with
Geffen Recordsand produced a five song demo which included later album tracks including "Description Of A Fool", " I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" and " Can I Kick It?". Geffen however, decided against offering the group a full-fledged recording contract and the group was granted permission to shop for a deal elsewhere while retaining the Geffen financed songs.
After receiving lucrative offers for multi-album deals from a variety of labels both big and small, the group showed early savvy in opting for a modest deal offered by
Jive Records, then known as an independent rap label that specialized in and owed its success to building careers of artists like Boogie Down Productionsand Too Short, and for placing emphasis on longevity, and paying attention to grass-rootsfan bases.Fact|date=December 2007
"People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm"
In less than a year, and under the management of
DJ Red Alert, the group released their first single, "Description Of A Fool", to a lukewarm reception, and without a music video in advance of their debut album " People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm". Similar to De La Soul's " 3 Feet High and Rising", "People's Instinctive Travels" was marked by a playful lyrical approach (as on the call-and-response inspired "Can I Kick It?"), light-hearted content (safe sex, vegetarianism, youthful experiences), and to a lesser extent, an idiosyncratic sense of humor, free from much of the posturing of both hardcore hip hop, and the more left-wing aspects of conscious hip hop. Also of note, was the album's sample material, largely based around jazzy loops and snippets from artists such as Cannonball Adderley, Roy Ayers, Rotary Connection, and Les McCann. Through these samples, the group employs the use of horns, Rhodes, bass guitar and vibes, giving the album a distinctively ethereal feel.Fact|date=December 2007
Although now critically acclaimed, at the time of its inception "People's Instinctive Travels" was met with mixed enthusiasm. Greg Tate of the
Village Voicecalled the album "upliftingly dope" and "so sweet and lyrical, so user-friendly. You could play it in the background when you're reading Proust." The Source also gave it a positive reception, even awarding it a five-mic rating - the magazine's highest possible rating. It was only the third album ever to receive this rating.Fact|date=December 2007 However, Chuck Eddy of Rolling Stonewrote that the album "is one of the least "danceable" rap albums ever" and he went on to say "it's impossible to imagine how people will put this music to use" [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/atribecalledquest/albums/album/241965/review/5946297/peoples_instinctive_travels_and_the_paths_of_rhythm A Tribe Called Quest: People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone ] ] .
The album went largely overlooked by the record buying public, and for the time being the group remained in the shadows of their Native Tongue brethren, Jungle Brothers, and De La Soul. It would gain some momentum only after the release of the singles "
Bonita Applebum", "Can I Kick It?", and the group's later commercial success, eventually going gold six years after its release. After the release of the album, Jarobi left the lineup for personal reasons but on amicable terms.Fact|date=December 2007 The group soon changed its management from DJ Red Alert to Chris Lighty.
"The Low End Theory"
Following "People's Instinctive Travels", the group continued to gather a loyal fan base through touring and guest appearances such as on De La Soul's "
A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays"". " Check the Rhime" was the lead single from the group's landmark second album, " The Low End Theory", released on September 24, 1991. Based around a sample from Average White Band's "Love Your Life", the song largely established the now familiar tag-team interplay between Q-Tip and Phife, as until then, most of the group's songs had only featured vocals by Q-Tip.
The two MCs, known for their engaging, and free-wheeling lyrical styles, began to focus on a range of social issues, from
date rape("The Infamous Date Rape") to consumerism("Skypager"). The songs were noticeably shorter, more abrupt, and bass-heavy. Guests on the album included Leaders Of The New School, Brand Nubian, Vinia Mojicaand Busta Rhymes. By now, the group had mastered their pursuits of rare records from which to sample or gain ideas and inspiration. Their innovative sampling, layering, and structuring of jazz records led many critics to label their style as jazz rap- a term which Q-Tip disapproved of, as although he felt it described groups such as Stetsasonicquite well, it misinterpreted Tribe themselves, who (aside from the song " Jazz (We've Got)") did not base most of their songs around the topic of jazz.
Helping to gain the group some valuable exposure was a legendary performance of the single "Scenario" with Leaders Of The New School on the
Arsenio Hall Show(at the time, at the height of its popularity). The performance was particularly memorable for the expressive energy of LONS member Busta Rhymes, and his famous "raow! raow! Like a dungeon dragon!" line. Around this time, the group also began to make experimental and visually stylish music videos, one of the most memorable of which is the black and white promo clip for "Jazz (We've Got)", a duration of which is delegated to the song "Buggin' Out". This part of the video changes from black and white to color, and features the group members wearing prosthetics that make their eyeballs appear to be bulging out, relating to the song's theme about undergoing stressful situations.
Production wise, the album was a more confident effort than their debut, featuring less of a reliance on drum loops, and contributions from jazz great
Ron Carteron upright bass. The album featured outside production from Skeff Anselm, on two tracks. Producer Pete Rockalso claims to have created the beat for "Jazz (We've Got)", and that Q-Tip later recreated the beat without his consent. In contrast to most of the Hip hop albums released in the early 90s which featured rough beats that run at relatively fast tempos, such as the Bomb Squad-produced " Amerikkka's Most Wanted", or the slow menacing funk beats of Dr. Dre's " The Chronic", "The Low End Theory" featured low-key, bass-heavy, and plodding beats which emphasized the pensive nature of the record. The recording sessions and mixing for the album was handled by renown record engineer Bob Power at Greene Street Studios, and Soundtrack Studios, in New York City.
On its release, the album was met with a bevy of praises.
Rolling Stonesaid of the album: "Each time Q-Tip rhymes over Carter's bass lines, the groove just gets deeper." [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6599002/154_the_low_end_theory 154) The Low End Theory : Rolling Stone ] ] The publication also named it #154 among the Best 500 Albums of All Time, and also as one of the Essential Recordings of the 90's. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/w9rg/ BBC - Urban Review - A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory ] ] Further praises were given by Spin Magazinewho listed it among the 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s. [ [http://www.tower.com/details/details.cfm?wapi=105985020 Tower.com: The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest: Music: CD ] ] The praises continue to the present day with Allmusiccalling it "one of the best hip-hop albums in history", and "a record that sounds better with each listen." [ [http://wm05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:apfexqu5ldke allmusic ((( The Low End Theory > Overview ))) ] ] Pop Mattersmusic editor Dave Heaton has this to say about the album:
quote|Anything really worth writing about is nearly indescribable; that's the conundrum of writing about music. Any 30-second snippet of "The Low End Theory" will go further to convince of the album's greatness than anything I can write. I could easily write an entire book on this one album and still feel like I've hardly said anything. Still, I could do worse things with my time than try to capture even an iota of the enthusiasm I feel each time I play this album. "The Low End Theory" is a remarkable experience, as aesthetically and emotionally rewarding as any work of music I can think of. [ [http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/t/tribecalledquest-low.shtml A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory - PopMatters Music Review ] ]
Among the accolades awarded to the album were:
* 5 Mic Album award from The Source (1990)
* #2 in Ego Trip's "Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980-98" (1999)
* #53 in Blender's "100 Greatest American Albums of All time" (2002)
* #56 in Pitchfork's "Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s" (2003)
* #154 in Rolling Stone's "Best 500 Albums of All Time" (2003)
* Spin Magazine
** #32 in "Top 90 Albums of the 90s" (1999)
** #38 in "Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years" (2005)
** #87 in "100 Alternative Albums" (1995)
Propelled by "Scenario", and positive word of mouth, "The Low End Theory" performed very well on the charts, selling in excess of two million units, and exceeding all expectations, most of all for an album that offered little to no concessions towards the mainstream. In the aftermath of their unqualified success, the group once again hit the road and contributed the song "
Hot Sex" to the soundtrack for the Eddie Murphyvehicle "Boomerang", in 1992.
Interrupting the proceedings was an encounter with
New Jack Swinggroup Wreckx-N-Effect, who had taken an exception to some lines in the song "Jazz (We've Got)". Viewed as a premier New Jack Swing group, W-N-E had misinterpreted the following couplets by Phife as a sideway diss:
:I'm all into my music cuz it's how I make papes:Tryin' to make hits, like Kid Capri mix tapes:Me sweat another? I do my own thing:Strictly hardcore tracks, not a new jack swing
The misunderstanding resulted in a melee in which Q-Tip sustained an injury to one of his eyes. Thus, during the shooting of the promo clip for "Hot Sex", the rapper resorted to wearing a
ski maskto cover up the abrasion. Soon after, Q-Tip was chosen to play the part of Markell, Janet Jackson's ill-fated partner, in the John Singleton-directed drama " Poetic Justice", which also starred Tupac Shakur. The minor part would nevertheless showcase Q-Tip's natural flair for acting and he would later receive offers for more diverse supporting roles. This film also allowed for a friendship to blossom between Q-Tip and Jackson, and the pair would go on to collaborate on her song " Got 'Til It's Gone", from her album, " The Velvet Rope", in 1997.
During the ascendancy of ATCQ, other Native Tongue members were experiencing career-lows. The Jungle Brothers, once the trailblazers of the collective, were now becoming disaffected with their label due to the under-promotion of their previous effort. In addition, they distanced themselves from the collective, and their music began to lean towards the emerging, European-influenced
trip hopsub-genre. However, ATCQ appeared to be maintaining an ongoing relationship with De La Soul.
Trugoy (also known Dave of De La Soul), appeared on the refrain of "
Award Tour", the group's lead single from their third album " Midnight Marauders", released on November 9, 1993. Coming on the heels of "The Low End Theory", the album was highly anticipated and many were anxious to see if the group could maintain their artistic integrity in light of their commercial success. Boosted by their raised profile, "Award Tour" became the group's highest charting single to date, and helped to land the album within the US Top Ten. The critics proved to be as enthusiastic about the new set as the fans were. Entertainment Weeklysaid the album "sounds as fresh as their first...rappers Phife and Q-Tip manage to hold attention without resorting to gun references or expletives..." [http://www.tower.com/details/details.cfm?wapi=106621278 Tower.com: Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest: Music: CD ] ] NMEcalled it their "most complete work to date" Likewise, Melody Makersaid "A Tribe Called Quest have expanded their vision with a lyrical gravitas and a musical lightness of touch that has hitherto eluded them across a whole album". The album was voted #21 by Village Voice in that year's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
Musically, "Midnight Marauders" built upon many of the ideas that were present on "The Low End Theory", although the results were noticeably different, and the music was more immediate. Whereas "Theory" had been an exercise in subdued minimalism, and simplicity, the grooves found on "Marauders" are mostly up tempo, and full of charging drums, suave basslines, melodious riffs, complementary horns, and catchy hooks, all delivered in an efficient 50 minute time frame. The intermittent voice of a tour guide (the titular 'midnight marauder') also serves to add further cohesion to the album.
The group was now famous for their unique choices of sample material on their albums and "Midnight Marauders" was no exception. Lead single "Award Tour" contained an infectiously sunny loop taken from
Weldon Irvine's "We Gettin' Down". Irvine, a little known but well-respected jazz virtuoso was enthused to have been sought by the group and lent his assistance towards the sampling of the song. Another outside musician to contribute to the record was Raphael Saadiq(credited as Raphael Wiggins) of Tony! Toni! Toné!, on the song "Midnight". Aside from the aforementioned, producers Large Professor, and Skeff Anselm handled two tracks - "Keep It Rollin'" and "8 Million Stories" respectively, the former also rapping over his production.
Lyrically, the album benefited from an even more confident duo in Phife Dawg, and Q-Tip, who's nimble verbal interplay is utilized to its fullest on songs like "Electric Relaxation" and "Oh My God". Opening song "Steve Biko (Stir It Up)" - which includes the lines "You know that I'm the rebel,throwin' out the wicked like God did the Devil" - is named after the slain
South African human rights activistand political revolutionary Steve Biko. Some of the other topics on the album are police harassment, and nocturnal activity ("Midnight"), religious faith ("God Lives Through"), and hip hop itself, as on the song "We Can Get Down" where Phife asks:
:How can a reverend preach, when a rev can't define:The music of our youth from 1979:We rap about what we see, meaning reality:From people bustin' caps and like Mandela being free:Not every MC be with the negativity:We have a slew of rappers pushin' positivity
Another song, the sometimes controversial "Sucka Nigga", deals with the candid use of the word "
nigga". In the song, Q-Tip notes the negative purpose of the word but subsequently emphasizes its subjective nature when he says:
:It means that we will never grow, you know the word dummy:Other niggas in the community think its crummy:But I don't, neither does the youth cause we:Em-brace adversity it goes right with the race:And being that we use it as a term of endearment:Niggas start to bug to the dome as where the fear went
The three singles for the album received memorable music videos, such as the one for second single "Electric Relaxation" which was shot in black and white, and takes place mostly in a diner. The song was the cause of an amusing mystery, as few people were certain of what is said during the hook, which is more or less mumbled out by Q-Tip (although there is now a consensus that the words are "relax yourself girl, please settle down"). The third single to be released was "Oh My God", the video for which showed the group in a neighborhood setting and surrounded by young fans. It also included a cameo by a typically manic Busta Rhymes. The group performed as one of a handful of rap acts at the 1994 Lollapalooza Festival, among acts such as
The Smashing Pumpkins, Stereolaband The Verve.
Intermission and The Ummah
"Midnight Marauders" remains A Tribe Called Quest's highest selling album, with sales of over three million units. The album's success allowed the group a greater financial freedom and the members took a short break before the recording of their next album began. Q-Tip produced stellar tracks for other artists including "One Love" for
Nas, "Illusions (Remix)" for Cypress Hill, and three tracks on the Mobb Deepalbum " The Infamous". He also went through a religious awakening and converted to Islam. Tragedy would strike when an improperly disposed cigarette at a house party escalated into a full-blown fire, burning down his home, vast record collection and many works in progress. Phife, who rapped on "Oh My God" that he owned "more condoms than TLC", made cameo appearances on that group's hugely successful album, " Crazy Sexy Cool", in 1994. He would also marry his fiancee and relocate to Atlanta, Georgia. Ali Shaheed Muhammad worked on outside projects with artists such as D'Angelo("Brown Sugar"), Shaquille O'Neal("Where Ya At?"), and Gil Scott-Heron("Don't Give Up").
While on tour, Q-Tip's friend
Amp Fiddlerwould introduce him to a young producer from Detroit named Jay Dee. The pair clicked immediately and Q-tip took the talented newcomer under his wing, and introduced him to the rest of Tribe, who agreed to the idea of forming a production unit and having Jay Dee as member, albeit under the guise of " The Ummah" (Arabic for "brotherhood"). The Ummah would now handle all the production on the rest of the group's albums. The group released " Revised Quest for the Seasoned Traveller" (a collection of remixes and b-sides) and contributed to "The Show Soundtrack" in 1995, before returning the following year with their fourth album.
"Beats, Rhymes and Life"
Beats, Rhymes and Life", the group's fourth album, was released during the turbulent East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry, which engulfed many rappers from both coasts and even some from in between. The group saw it fit to address these issues, a decision based partly on principle, but also probably based on the fact that, despite being from the East, they were well respected on both coasts. Cuts like "Get A Hold", and "Keep It Moving" contain references to the state of affairs, and are some of the most sober songs the group has ever recorded. On the latter, Q-Tip raps:
:How you get West Coast nigga, from West Coast hater?:I could never dis a whole coast, my time is too greater:Yeah, we from the East, the land of originators:You also from the West, the land of innovators:The only difference of the two is the style of the r
In addition to the heavier subject matter, The Ummah's production style was now a smoother (but darker) hybrid of the group's previous incarnations. Jay Dee, a big fan of the Tribe, appeared to have modeled his sound partly on "The Low End Theory", providing quirky, soulful, and slightly offbeat affairs such as the plucky "Keep It Moving", or the disconcertingly unaccented "Wordplay". While these new beats fit the album's direction, another ingredient left many puzzled. Consequence, Q-Tip's cousin, and an aspiring rapper, was present on no less than six songs, including the second single "
Stressed Out", which caused many to think he had been officially added to the lineup. This factor only magnified Phife's slightly reduced participation. After their break up, Phife Dawg would reveal how he had began to lose interest in recording as a part of the group by the fourth album:
quote|I really felt like with "Midnight Marauders" I came into my own. By the time when "Beats, Rhymes and Life" came out I started feelin’ like I didn’t fit in any more. Q-Tip and Ali had converted to Islam and I didn’t. Music felt like a job; like I was just doin’ it to pay bills. I never want my music to feel like just a job. They would schedule studio time at the last minute. I’d catch a plane from Atlanta to be in New York and when I got to the studio, no one would be there. They would have canceled the session without telling me. Seemed like the management was concerned with other folks not me. But I never lost my confidence. [http://listd.net/features.php?article=The-Funky-Diabetic-%2b-Phife-Dawg LISTD.NET ™ | Features | The Funky Diabetic - Phife Dawg ] ]
The album shot straight to #1 in the charts, although sales were overall not as strong as the previous two. It was, however, nominated for a
Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, as was the lead single, " 1nce Again", which received a nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Critical reactions were largely divided but mostly positive. While some welcomed the new material, others found it to be a step below their past work. Rolling Stone called it "near-flawless", going on to say that "few hip-hop acts have so sharply captured the surreal quality that defines what it means to be African-American, a quality in which poker-faced humor and giddy tragedy play tag team with reality." [http://www.tower.com/details/details.cfm?wapi=106617889 Tower.com: Beats, Rhymes And Life by A Tribe Called Quest: Music: CD ] ] The Source awarded it 4 out of 5 mics and called The Ummah "the most proficient in the rap game at using samples as instruments in themselves". Despite his apparent lack of motivation Spin Magazine thought Phife sounded "tougher and more playful than ever", while Melody Maker saw the album as "providing both their best and worst thus far", and "magnetic yet frustrating". In a 1998 farewell article in The Source, ?uestlove, drummer for The Roots, summarized the album's partially frosty reception:
Following "Beats, Rhymes and Life", the group appeared on the "" with the song, "Same Ol' Thing", and released, "The Jam", a 4-track EP which included the aforementioned song, "Mardi Gras At Midnight" (with
Rah Digga) and two songs from "Beats, Rhymes and Life", "Get A Hold" and "Jam". 1997 also saw the first coming together of the three main Native Tongue groups since 1989, when the Jungle Brothers invited both Tribe and De La Soul to guest on "How Ya Want It We Got It", a cut from their album "Raw Deluxe". The Ummah continued producing for a diverse range of artists such as Janet Jackson, Keith Murray, Faith Evans, and Whitney Houston.
"The Love Movement" and split
Prior to the unveiling of "The Love Movement", the group announced that it would be their last album together. Fans were surprised, as the breakdown had been kept discreet. In an interview with The Source, the group cited their frustration with Jive Zomba as a significant factor in the breakup. Phife:
"The Love Movement" was preceded by the fun-spirited "Find A Way"; a song memorable for its swirly otherworldly production and catchy staccato hook. It also received a stylish Paul Hunter-directed music video (the last video the group ever made). Musically, the somewhat somber tone of the previous album was largely absent and replaced by a familiar carefree optimism. Tracks like "Give Me", with Noreaga exemplify the group's approach for much of the album. Driven by a pulsing beat, the opening song "Start It Up" was perhaps even more minimal than anything found on "The Low End Theory". Likewise, "Against The World" relies on little more than crisply mixed down drums and a two note bassline. The theme of the album was firmly focused around the topic of
love; love for oneself, love for another, love for mankind, love in the face of hate.
Critical reception for "The Love Movement" was fairly positive, although some fractions viewed the album as too subtle to be thoroughly effective. Rolling Stone, for example, remarked that "the mature, accomplished niceness of "The Love Movement" proves that the Tribe still have the skills – they're just short on thrills." [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/atribecalledquest/albums/album/312177/review/5944984/the_love_movement A Tribe Called Quest: The Love Movement : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone ] ] The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, in 1999.
Under the management of Violator, Q-Tip launched a briefly successful solo career, which saw two sizable hits ("
Vivrant Thing", and " Breathe And Stop"), and the Gold-certified album, "Amplified", released in 1999. Some saw Q-Tip's arguably radio-friendly material as pandering to the mainstream; something his former group were highly respected for avoiding during their run. The album was produced by Q-Tip and Jay Dee (as The Ummah), and DJ Scratch.
After "Amplified", Q-Tip changed directions and recorded 2002's "
Kamaal the Abstract", an album which saw the rapper in the role of singer and bandleader. Unlike his work with Tribe, or even his own solo work, "Kamaal" was constructed around live music, and "abstract" song concepts, all orchestrated by Q-Tip himself. Unfortunately, Arista Recordsrefused to release the album, fearing it would be unmarketable coming from a rapper. Undeterred, Q-Tip recorded 2005's "Open", a slightly more accessible album, featuring contributions from André 3000, Common, and D'Angelo. Once again, the record was rejected by Arista, after which Q-Tip left the label. He subsequently signed to Motown/Universal and plans to release "The Renaissance" in early 2008.
Ironically, the most notable of Q-Tip's critics was Phife, who took his former partner to task on his solo album "", released in 2000. The
Hi-Tek-produced lead single, "Flawless", contained the lines "Go 'head, play yourself with them ho-like hooks / sing ballads if it's all about the Maxwell look" (an allusion to Q-Tip's then afro hairstyle). "Ventilation" also included production by Jay Deeand Pete Rock. Q-Tip and Phife soon patched up their differences. Since then, Phife, who is diabetic, has maintained a relatively low-profile whilst recording his long delayed follow-up album, "Songs In The Key Of Phife: Volume 1 (Cheryl’s Big Son)".
Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Teaming up with two other artists from former groups,
Raphael Saadiqof Tony! Toni! Toné!, and Dawn Robinsonof En Vogue, Ali Shaheed's next project was the supergroup Lucy Pearl. The group scored a huge hit single with "Dance Tonight", and a warm hit with "Don't Mess With My Man", and their one and only self-titled album was certified Gold a few months after its release in 2000. Following a dispute between Saadiq and Robinson, the latter left the group and was replaced by Joi, however this new incarnation would only last for the remainder of touring. Ali Shaheed then focused on developing a staple of artists, most of whom were showcased on his debut solo album "Shaheedullah and Stereotypes", released independently in 2004.
The group first reunited on November 13th, 2004, headlining the
Rock the Bellsconcert held in the Angels Stadiumparking lot in Anaheim, CA. This was the night that Ol' Dirty Bastarddied, and as such the group opened up with a 10-minute tribute set to the Wu-Tang Clanand continued a 2-hour highly energetic show.
In 2006, the group reunited and performed several sold-out concerts in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. A Tribe Called Quest was a co-headliner at the 2006
Bumbershootfestival in Seattle, but have not announced any plans to release a new album. The group is also appearing in 2K Sports' Bounce Tour promoting the "NBA 2K7" game and a remix of their song, "Lyrics to Go", which is included in the game. According to Phife, ATCQ plans to release an album since they owe Jive Records one more in their six album contract. The date of its release is still unconfirmed, and Phife has urged fans to hold on as the group do not wish to release an LP which might damage their reputation. Speaking about the possibility of a new album showing up soon, Phife said:
quote|Man, we was only 18-19 when we first got started. [When] We broke up we were still like 28. Now we are 35-36. It’d be real different being in the studio. It would be real interesting to see where Q-Tip is. It would all be on a much higher level. But we are all into such different stuff from way back then. We’d need at least a solid month to work on something. Trying to get all of us together for that much time… I don’t see that happening.
ATCQ will be headlining Rock the Bells 2008 [ [http://www.guerillaunion.com/rockthebells/ Rock The Bells - International Festival Series ] ]
Influence and Legacy
A Tribe Called Quest's influence and popularity has proven to be wide-reaching and enduring. In many ways, they are seen as the quintessential two-MC group, having built upon the blueprint laid down by another legendary group,
Run-DMC. Much of their appeal has to do with their everyday man image, which has seen them gather fans across a wide-spectrum and demographic. Their music appeals to fans of traditional hip hop, fans of hardcore hip hop, as well as the mainstream hip hop fan. For the casual listener, the group's easygoing style made them a lighthearted and easily accessible listen, as opposed to, say, the incendiary content of an Ice Cube, or the often misogynistic musings of a Snoop Dogg. In addition, their ever-present "just be yourself" motto resonated strongly with younger audiences, in particular college students, many of whom, in the wake of the gangsta-rap explosion during the early 90s, found themselves without a common voice in the often outlandish world of hip hop.
Musically, the group helped to set trends such as using very rare, obscure, and at times plain unusual records for samples, taking the focus away from more traditional sources such as
James Brown, and George Clinton. At a time when louder was better, Tribe were taking "background" records and making classics with them. The group is known for sampling just about anything, from weird Martiansound effects, and market noise, to gramophone static. Some of their techniques, such as the muffling of samples for basslines, are now commonplace in the world of hip hop production.
Their album art, often featuring a painted woman, was also known for its originality, artistic merit and cohesiveness from album to album.
The group's influence can be seen in current groups who focus on positivity such as
Little Brother, Black Eyed Peas, and Slum Village(of which producer Jay Dee was also a member). Mainstream heavyweights such as Kanye West, Pharrell, and Just Blazehave also publicly confessed to being ardent Tribe fans. The group is also known for having some of the most loyal fans in hip hop, who almost a decade after the group disbanded, are still anticipating any new projects from its members, and consistently attend reunion performances.
The group was formally acknowledged at the 4th VH1 Hip Hop Honors, where Common,
Pharrell, Lupe Fiasco, and Busta Rhymesperformed " Bonita Applebum", " Electric Relaxation" and "Scenario". The group themselves closed the show with an energetic but brief performance, kept so because of the graveness of Phife's diabetic condition.
In a 1998 interview with The Source, the group spoke of the kind of legacy they would like to leave behind:
A common misconception is that Q-Tip and Ali or Tribe as a group produced all the tracks for A Tribe Called Quest. This isn't true. All the production for the first three albums were handled solely by Q-TipFact|date=October 2008 while "Beat Rhymes & Life" and "The Love Movement" were produced by
People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm"
The Low End Theory"
Beats, Rhymes and Life"
The Love Movement"
* [http://www.atribecalledquest.com/ A Tribe Called Quest - Official Site]
* [http://www.atcq.com/ Jive Records - A Tribe Called Quest]
*MySpace|atribecalledquest|A Tribe Called Quest
* [http://www.discogs.com/artist/A+Tribe+Called+Quest A Tribe Called Quest] at
* [http://www.legacyrecordings.com/A-Tribe-Called-Quest.aspx A Tribe Called Quest Legacy Recording Page]
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