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Rap - Released November 13, 2015 | Jive - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
One year after De la Soul re-drew the map for alternative rap, fellow Native Tongues brothers A Tribe Called Quest released their debut, the quiet beginning of a revolution in non-commercial hip-hop. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm floated a few familiar hooks, but it wasn't a sampladelic record. Rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg dropped a few clunky rhymes, but their lyrics were packed with ideas, while their flow and interplay were among the most original in hip-hop. From the beginning, Tribe focused on intelligent message tracks but rarely sounded over-serious about them. With "Pubic Enemy," they put a humorous spin on the touchy subject of venereal disease (including a special award for the most inventive use of the classic "scratchin'" sample), and moved right into a love rap, "Bonita Applebum," which alternated a sitar sample with the type of jazzy keys often heard on later Tribe tracks. "Description of a Fool" took to task those with violent tendencies, while "Youthful Expression" spoke wisely of the power yet growing responsibility of teenagers. Next to important message tracks with great productions, A Tribe Called Quest could also be deliciously playful (or frustratingly unserious, depending on your opinion). "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" describes a vacation gone hilariously wrong, while "Ham 'n' Eggs" may be the oddest topic for a rap track ever heard up to that point ("I don't eat no ham and eggs, cuz they're high in cholesterol"). Contrary to the message in the track titles, the opener "Push It Along" and "Rhythm (Dedicated to the Art of Moving Butts)" were fusions of atmospheric samples with tough beats, special attention being paid to a pair of later Tribe sample favorites, jazz guitar and '70s fusion synth. Restless and ceaselessly imaginative, Tribe perhaps experimented too much on their debut, but they succeeded at much of it, certainly enough to show much promise as a new decade dawned. ~ John Bush
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Rap - Released September 24, 1991 | Jive

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
While most of the players in the jazz-rap movement never quite escaped the pasted-on qualities of their vintage samples, with The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest created one of the closest and most brilliant fusions of jazz atmosphere and hip-hop attitude ever recorded. The rapping by Q-Tip and Phife Dawg could be the smoothest of any rap record ever heard; the pair are so in tune with each other, they sound like flip sides of the same personality, fluidly trading off on rhymes, with the former earning his nickname (the Abstract) and Phife concerning himself with the more concrete issues of being young, gifted, and black. The trio also takes on the rap game with a pair of hard-hitting tracks: "Rap Promoter" and "Show Business," the latter a lyrical soundclash with Q-Tip and Phife plus Brand Nubian's Diamond D, Lord Jamar, and Sadat X. The woman problem gets investigated as well, on two realistic yet sensitive tracks, "Butter" and "The Infamous Date Rape." The productions behind these tracks aren't quite skeletal, but they're certainly not complex. Instead, Tribe weaves little more than a stand-up bass (sampled or, on one track, jazz luminary Ron Carter) and crisp, live-sounding drum programs with a few deftly placed samples or electric keyboards. It's a tribute to their unerring production sense that, with just those few tools, Tribe produced one of the best hip-hop albums in history, a record that sounds better with each listen. The Low End Theory is an unqualified success, the perfect marriage of intelligent, flowing raps to nuanced, groove-centered productions. ~ John Bush
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Rap - Released November 10, 1997 | Jive

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects
Though the abstract rappers finally betrayed a few commercial ambitions for Midnight Marauders, the happy result was a smart, hooky record that may not have furthered the jazz-rap fusions of The Low End Theory, but did merge Tribe-style intelligence and reflection with some of the most inviting grooves heard on any early-'90s rap record. The productions, more funky than jazzy, were tighter overall -- but the big improvement, four years after their debut, came with Q-Tip's and Phife Dawg's raps. Focused yet funky, polished but raw, the duo was practically telepathic on "Steve Biko (Stir It Up)" and "The Chase, Pt. 2," though the mammoth track here was the pop hit "Award Tour." A worldwide call-out record with a killer riff and a great pair of individual raps from the pair, it assured that Midnight Marauders would become A Tribe Called Quest's biggest seller. The album didn't feature as many topical tracks as Tribe was known for, though the group did include an excellent, sympathetic commentary on the question of that word ("Sucka Nigga," with a key phrase: "being as we use it as a term of endearment"). Most of the time, A Tribe Called Quest was indulging in impeccably produced, next-generation games of the dozens ("We Can Get Down," "Oh My God," "Lyrics to Go"), but also took the time to illustrate sensitivity and spirituality ("God Lives Through"). A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders was commercially successful, artistically adept, and lyrically inventive; the album cemented their status as alternative rap's prime sound merchants, authors of the most original style since the Bomb Squad first exploded on wax. ~ John Bush
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Rap - Released April 4, 1994 | Jive

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rap - Released November 11, 2016 | Epic

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
It seemed like the story of A Tribe Called Quest ended with the sad passing of original member Phife in early 2016. It began with their glory days as one of hip-hop's greatest acts to years of sometimes bitter estrangement, then hit a high point with the group coming together in 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. They had a surprise up their sleeve, though. On the night they performed on The Tonight Show, the four original members of the Tribe decided the time was right to hit the studio and make a new album. Repairing relationships was the first step and once that happened, the group (minus Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who was in Los Angeles working on the music to Luke Cage) holed up in Q-Tip's home studio and started working on their comeback, We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service. Q-Tip held down the producer's chair with a mad scientist's flair, searching near and far through his record collection for inspiration. Tip, Phife, and Jarobi brought rhymes that sounded like they'd been sealed up since the early '90s, then broken open and served fresh. Old collaborators Busta Rhymes and Consequence dropped by to add their skills and energy; new artists like Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak, who grew up on the Tribe, dropped by to add verses, and some big names like Andre 3000 and Kanye West jumped in feet first, especially Andre, whose rapid-fire verses with Q-Tip on "Kids" provide one of the record's highlights. Jack White adds some of his guitar heroics on a few tracks and Elton John makes a cameo as well, singing the hook of the very odd "Solid Wall of Sound." The sheer number of guests, the long wait since their last album, the shifting tides of hip hop -- all these factors could have led to We Got It being a disappointment. Amazingly, it turns out to be almost the exact opposite. Thanks to Q-Tip's visionary and pleasingly weird production, which draws from golden age hip-hop, old-school jazz, odd samples, dub reggae, and interplanetary electro, the fact the neither he nor Phife have lost even a small percentage of a step, and the seamlessly integrated contributions from the guests (especially Paak on "Moving Backwards"), the album is vibrant, intense, and alive. The group sound like they're having a blast on party songs like "The Donald" or the buoyant "Dis Generation," get mad as hell on tracks like "Space Program" and "We the People," and generally come off like they're still the greatest. This is no nostalgia trip or callous comeback. It's a giant exclamation point on the end of a brilliant career. It's also a tribute to the everyman genius of Phife, a widescreen look at the record-making skills of Q-Tip, and most importantly, it's a pure, undiluted, joyous thrill to have the Tribe back and still sounding this vital. ~ Tim Sendra
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Rap - Released October 27, 2003 | Jive

For those who haven't discovered that A Tribe Called Quest made several of the best LPs in hip-hop history, Anthology is a perfect way to encapsulate the trio's decade-long career into one manageable portion. All of their best and biggest songs are here, from the early neglected joint "Luck of Lucien" to classic jazz-rap from The Low End Theory like "Jazz (We've Got)," and their 45-rpm peak with "Award Tour," all the way to their last big hit, "Find a Way," from 1998's The Love Movement. Yes, anyone who enjoys hip-hop needs to own at least Midnight Marauders and The Low End Theory, but Anthology succeeds in delivering all the highest points from a great hip-hop group's career. The collection also includes the first solo track from Q-Tip, 1999's "Vivrant Thing." ~ John Bush
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Rap - Released July 31, 2000 | Jive

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Rap - Released June 18, 2007 | Jive

Unquestionably one of the most influential acts in the history of hip-hop, the Tribe left behind them a legacy few could contend with and most have revered since their debut release. And while Hits, Rarities & Remixes is not as thorough a compilation as 1999's Anthology, it does offer highly sought-after tracks that are out of print, including a few that were featured exclusively on movie soundtracks. A good number of the crowd-favorite anthems that made Tribe one of the most adored groups of its time are featured here, and a few that were secret weapons in many a DJ crate during their initial release. What separates this collection from the earlier anthology is its ability to function as a comprehensive road map through the group's career for the inquisitive first-timer as well as offer up obscure tracks for the die-hard beat heads. And while serious fanatics will already have all of these releases on CD, it's well worth the purchase price to have them all in one place. ~ Rob Theakston
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Rap - Released September 30, 2002 | Jive

Continuing with the subdued, mature stylistic flow of Beats, Rhymes and Life, The Love Movement, the fifth album from A Tribe Called Quest, is the group's subtlest album yet -- which may just be a polite way for saying it's a little monotonous. Throughout the record, Tribe mines the same jazz-flavored, R&B-fueled beats that were the hallmark of Beats. Although the "love" concept provides a thematic cohesion to the album -- almost all of the songs are about love, in one way or another -- the overall effect is quite similar to its immediate predecessor: the music is enthralling for a while, but soon it all sounds a little too familiar. Part of the problem is that Tribe functions on a cerebral level, a point made painfully clear by Busta Rhymes' and Redman's roaring, visceral cameos on "Steppin' It Up." On their own, Tribe favors craft over raw skills. That means there are plenty of pleasures to be had from careful listening, but Tribe has reached a point where it's easier to admire the Ummah's stylish production and the subtle rhymes of Q-Tip and Phife than it is to outright love them, which is ironic for an album bearing the title The Love Movement. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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A Tribe Called Quest in the magazine