A Tribe Called Quest


A Tribe Called Quest is one of Hip Hop’s most legendary, beloved and revered groups of all time, and for good reason. Easily recognized for their unique approach to rap music by employing jazzy soundscapes to Afro centric rhymes, sans the jaded and often nihilistic aggressive posturing. A Tribe Called Quest is largely responsible for the popularity of Jazzy Hip-Hop that seemed to dominate the East Coast sound of the early 1990’s. ATCQ was formed in 1985 by Queens, New York natives, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad of Brooklyn, who met Q-Tip in high school and although missing on most albums but always present in heart and friendship, Jarobi. QUEST, the original name of the group was later given the prefix A Tribe Called by their high school buddies, The Jungle Brothers, while recording the song ‘Black Is Black’ for the Straight Out The Jungle Album. Tribe along with the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul formed a unit called The Native Tongues. With a building buzz around The Native Tongues and Tribe’s energetic live performances, ATCQ landed a major recording contract with Jive Records in 1989. Sonically, ATCQ were a decisive and welcomed tangent of jazz, bass-heavy rhythmic vibes and eclectic sampling when compared to the mundane recycling of soul loops, breaks and vocals of their contemporaries. Lyrically, emcees Q-Tip and Phife addressed social issues relevant to young blacks such as use of the ‘n word’ and its relevance, date rape and other interpersonal relationships, industry politics, consumerism, and none the lesser how to have a good time while still promoting positivity. Often wearing their hearts on their sleeves, ATCQ scored a number of successful singles and albums with their creative approach to rap music. In 1990, the group released People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm scoring several memorable songs including ‘Bonita Applebum,’ ‘Can I Kick It,’ and ‘I left my Wallet in El Segundo,’ but it would be their sophomore effort, considered one of the greatest follow-ups in Hip Hop history, The Low End Theory, that would solidify them as legends in the present and for the ages. Released in late 1991, it was the freedom expressed in the creation and feel of this record along with its successor Midnight Marauders that would establish a blueprint for many future artists and producers such as Common, The Roots, Jill Scott, Kanye West, and The Neptunes who would emulate and embrace Tribes style for years to come. With a seemingly endless barrage of classic songs like ‘Award Tour,’ ‘Electric Relaxation,’ ‘Check The Rhyme,’ and ‘Scenario’ Tribe’s influence was unavoidable. By the release of their fourth album, Beats, Rhymes and Life in 1996, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and new comer – stellar talent Jay Dee (now ‘Jay Dilla’ of Slum Village) had formed a production team dubbed The Ummah who often brought their aural aesthetic to other artists such as Janet Jackson, D’Angelo, and Faith Evans. Q-Tip’s cousin, Consequence, contributed guest vocals on several tracks of the Beats, Rhymes and Life album as ATCQ continued to perfect and advance their sound displaying their unique take on what Hip Hop could be and sound like. This progressive unparalleled effort came to an unexpected end shortly after the release of their fifth studio album, The Love Movement. It was with the completion of this album when ATCQ chose to exit the proverbial stage, where they captivated the ears and imaginations of Hip Hop fans. In recent years, the anticipation for another Tribe album has been building. The Abstract Poetic, The Five Foot Assassin and Mr. Muhammad have yet to grace the studio for another record, however they have hit the road again to perform for their fans who have been waiting so long in adulation for them. To this day, the power of their music is still evident in their dynamic stage performance. A Tribe Called Quest’s anomalous posture has changed the face and sound of Hip Hop music, which paved the way for future groups, artists and producers to be themselves while still being creative. With or without a sixth album we can say for certain that Tribe’s legacy lives on with five solid albums by the way of creative innovation that will be recognized as a pre-eminent contribution in musical history.

SOURCE: atribecalledquest.com/html/
MYSPACE: www.myspace.com/atribecalledquest

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