So I ripped through the 33 1/3 book on People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm last week. It was a very personal and authoritative look at an album that probably doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. I’m actually lining up a Q&A with the author, Shawn Taylor, that I’ll post here, so stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, the book inspired me to go back to the album for some of the things I might have missed that Taylor describes with great zeal. Luckily, I found this great video of Tribe performing Can I Kick It? – probably one of the album’s best-known cuts – at the Apollo (via The Meaning of Dope).
I’m not sure when this was filmed, but it’s at least interesting to note that Tribe already ditched the Afro-inspired wardrobe, a vibe that seemed very prominent on the album and in the Native Tongues movement in general. We can only hope Sinbad burned that blouse shirt he’s wearing here.
I’m eager to dig into it, if only because I find it a curious selection from the Tribe catalog to write about. Not saying it’s not worthy, but it seems like Low End Theory was really the watershed album for Tribe (even though Midnight Marauders is my favorite).
That said, one of the great storytelling tracks in Tribe (hip-hop?) lore comes from that first album, I Left My Wallet in El Segundo. The video is charming, not just for its visual illustration of the tale but also for how it captures Tribe in a time capsule, from the group’s Afro-inspired wardrobe to a rare appearance by long lost fourth member Jarobi.
One of the great tracks on Q-Tip’s The Renaissance isn’t really even its own track at all. It probably would be called a hidden track, if such a thing is possible in the middle of an album.
Renaissance Rap is hitched to the back end of Move, a two-part suite of sorts. I swore my iTunes tags were screwed up or something when I heard it the first time. Move comes to a sudden end at about 2:49, leading into a scratch break that introduces Renaissance Rap, on which Q-Tip steamrolls through his verses, reminding everyone who’s in the house: “It’s the midnight marauder on the scene / geographically earthed in a place called Queens.”
Check the Bourne-esque video, directed by the ubiquitous Rik Cordero.
According to Tip’s site, he’ll be performing with a live band. In light of that news, Q-Tip shared a mobile video of a rehearsal. The sound is for shit, but you can hear right off the bat the band practicing Tribe’s God Lives Through (!). (You have to click the “shows” tab and click the far left thumbnail.)
In other Tribe-related news, an artist signed to Phife’s independent label, Smokin’ Needles Records, passed away.
Thanks to Spine Magazine for the heads up on this: Q-Tip reveals information during a Hot 97 interview about Nas-produced documentary on A Tribe Called Quest.
Actor Michael Rappaport, who recently on the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors said he named his son Maceo after Maseo from De La Soul, also is involved on the production/directing end. (Thinking about naming my first son Q-Tip … Q-Tip Murphy. I like it.)
As Nov. 4 fast approaches — the alleged date for release of Q-Tip’s The Renaissance — we are treated to another peek at what the album might hold. Honestly, if The Renaissance is as good as Gettin’ Up and Move are hinting at, then the wait will all be worth it.
Where does A Tribe Called Quest fall in the list? Glad you asked. Check the Rhime, a song previously discussed (with a couple remixes) here, drops in at No. 30. Considering the high regard I have for Tribe, I find that placement totally unacceptable. I’m not even sure it’s my favorite Tribe song (though it ranks right up there). Can I Kick It?, Oh My God, Bonita Applebum and even Award Tour probably deserve mention. Hell, let’s say Scenario while we’re at it (though that was probably more a coming-out party for Busta Rhymes than anything).
That said, Tribe’s legacy doesn’t really seem tied to one song, like, say, Naughty By Nature and O.P.P. (No. 22). That’s obviously a good thing in terms of staying power and respect.
In the end, I’m not really sure what was taken into consideration for inclusion on this list — commercial success?, name recognition?, crossover appeal? — but you can’t put out a best-of anything hip-hop list and not include Tribe.
So I’m curious for anyone wanting to comment: What Tribe song belongs on this list? Is there one defining track for the group?