Category Archives: Sundays with Tribe

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 10

Here’s a great 27-minute interview with Q-Tip on the Juan Epstein podcast.

They ask Q-Tip basically everything you’ve ever wanted to know: “What was Jarobi’s role?” “What was the first song you recorded as Tribe?” (Answer: Tip wrote Bonita Applebum when he was 14. 14! I don’t even remember what I was doing at 14 years old, but I wasn’t writing hip-hop classics.

Q-Tip also talks about the various versions of Scenario – which became a topic of conversation on the Nets lately – and how all his recorded versions were lost in a fire at his home studio years ago. If I believed in emoticons, here is where I would put in a sad face.

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 9

I wish I had more to say about this remix. All I know is, this is one of my favorite flips of a remix. Ever. And after all these years, I don’t even know who Know Naim is. A Google search reveals little.

I know this comes off the Oh My God single (have it on tape, CD and vinyl) that featured a remix of the original. The Know Naim mix is then a reworking of the remix with new verses by Know Naim. It’s 2 minutes, 49 seconds of tight rhymes, with one hot one-liner after another: “I’ll cramp your fuckin’ style / like you ate before you swum.” “They got my back like a Jansport.” “Play like En Vogue because you’re never gonna get it.”

Someone tell me: Who is Know Naim? The credits on the single: “Know Naim is: Snag, Lo and Bay.”

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 8

Q-Tip wore the above shirt from Alife during shows for the Rock the Bells tour.

I want one. Anybody who goes to an Alife store and sends me one gets, um, something … I don’t know what yet. But it’ll be great.

And if you don’t know where that verse came from … better ask somebody.

Also, did you know Q-Tip is on Twitter (via)? Most recent “tweet”, 27 days ago: “I left my obama fleece in my hotel room in TORONTO!!!!! Dayum.”

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 7

Here’s a jam that was played on Saturday night at The Shop, one of the best hip-hop nights in Phoenix.

Funny that it was played, too, because earlier a friend was discussing the many merits of the early Rawkus catalog, including the Lyricist Lounge and Soundbombing compilations. Body Rock, produced by Shawn J. Period, was on the first Lyricist Lounge comp – just one of the many cameos Q-Tip has made in his career.

(Converted from Body Rock 12-inch.)

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 6

Strange things have been happening since I started this weekly Tribe routine. First, Lil Wayne is possibly coppin’ an old sample that Tribe used for a remix. Then you’ve got Tribe rehearsing for the Rock the Bells tour.

Now I suppose you’re going to tell me there’s some unreleased version of Scenario floating around out there. Oh … whuh? Really?!

The news of this for any Tribe fan is amazing, considering Scenario was really a flashpoint for the group — they performed it on Arsenio! (Can I get a little for the Dog Pound!)

Seriously, if you wanna talk posse cuts, Scenario blew my mind. A Tribe Called Quest + Leaders of the New School? The possibilities seemed endless – sorry, this was before every friggin’ rap song featured someone. It was exciting to see Tribe share verses with Leaders and vice versa. Then there’s Busta Rhymes – still his best verse ever, just after he teases us in Q-Tip’s spot (“I heard you rushed and rushed and attacked.”).

That makes four versions of the song I have now – including the original and a couple remixes – and supposedly there’s another version. Damn. (I’ve also got the “cassingle.”)

I’m really glad Phife revisited his verse from this unreleased version. “I use nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs.” Yeeeeeah. Although, the Koko B. Ware name drop is priceless.

Just for fun, the video (check out the wack Apple IIGS concept here):

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 4

A lot of folks were buzzing about the news that Lil Wayne copped a sample by A Tribe Called Quest from a fairly unknown remix album for new song A Milli.

This YouTube video attempts to explain it all:

The Tribe track comes off a remix album called Revised Quest for the Seasoned Traveller. It’s not as rare as the YouTuber makes it out to be (I have it on CD and vinyl). It was released on Jive in 1992 so the tracklisting contains early Tribe material, including a remix of If the Papes Come (never released on a proper Tribe album). The album is worth tracking down if only for the “Hootie Mix” of Bonita Applebum.

Anyway, the song in question is I Left My Wallet in El Segundo (Vampire Mix), which contains one of the more intriguing credits on the album: “Remixed by Norman Cook.” Yeah, that Norman Cook.

My guess is that if Lil Wayne robbed the sample without clearance, he probably has the cash to cover the costs.

(Thanks to Eric for the heads up.)

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 3

Thanks to The Meaning of Dope for this one.

Youthful Expression comes off Tribe’s debut, People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm (1990). And judging by the garb and props – is Phife twirling a didgeridoo? – this definitely shows Tribe’s early Afrocentric leanings.

And I can’t be sure of this, but Youthful Expression has to be one of the few tracks in which one of the group’s MCs doesn’t have a verse. (Sorry, Phife.)

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 2

So Friday night we went out with some friends, and I ended up, uh, falling asleep in the passenger seat while my wife navigated home. While I was still awake, I popped Midnight Marauders on the iPod – only one of the greatest hip-hop records with one of the greatest covers – for the drive home.

I’m told I fell asleep, clutching the iPod as to not allow my wife a chance to change the tunes (and, really, why would she?). I quite enjoyed the unintentional symbolism at work there: You’re going to have to rip Midnight Marauders from my cold, dead hands when my time eventually expires. It’s too much to go into how much I love that album for these purposes, but let’s say I will write an I Used to Love H.E.R. entry one day soon … and it will be long and it will be glorious.

Until then, I will say that the last two tracks on Midnight MaraudersLyrics to Go and God Lives Through – are probably my favorites off the record. (I think there’s a post brewing about best last songs on albums … hmmmm.) One of the most unique aspects of God Lives Through is how it samples a vocal loop – Busta Rhymes growling “oh my god!” – off a song from the same album. It’s a move that seems like it would be self-aggrandizing, but it’s really genius instead with how it hammers in your brain the hook.

The pacing of the track also appeals to me, its unorthodox syncopation dropping bass hits early in each measure. It’s definitely one of my favorite Tribe songs to rap along with while it plays. The verses – just one apiece from Q-Tip and Phife – are meaty and loaded (thanks to Phife) with playful yet resourceful name-checking: the Pharcyde, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Shanice and, of course, his best friend Steven at the Home Depot.

Samples used: Jimmy McGriff, Dig On It; David T. Walker, On Love (via The Breaks).

Sundays with A Tribe Called Quest: Vol. 1

I’ve been meaning to start some arbitrary weekly feature for some time now, and I came to the decision that every Sunday I will now post something related to A Tribe Called Quest, if only because the group is one of my all-time favorites (Midnight Marauders is desert-island disc material) and, really, do I need another reason? Anyway, we gotta educate the young’ens, right? So check back every Sunday for songs, videos, remixes, whatever. We’ll see how deep my Tribe catalog is. And if anyone has some Tribe goodies to share, holler at me.

If there was some sort of sign that I should begin this feature, it came to me on Saturday night. Earlier in the day I was browsing The Meaning of Dope (a must for you hip-hop fans) when I came across a video of A Tribe Called Quest performing Check the Rhime on In Living Color.

Well, on Saturday night, I was working the Mariners-Padres game for work. While listening to the San Diego feed on MLB.tv, Check the Rhime was played on a fade into a commercial break. Coincidence? I think not.

Without question, Check the Rhime probably is one of the best examples of interplay between Q-Tip and Phife in its sort of call-and-response format – “You on point, Phife?” / “All the time, Tip.”

More important is one of the most well-known and cited lines in Tribe lore. Even 17 years later, no truer words have been spoken: “Industry rule No. 4080, record company people are shady.”

Peep the video. And check out Q-Tip: Could he be any more of a front-runner with the Yankees jersey and Braves hat? Damn.

(B-sides from promo CD single.)

Here’s a list, via the Breaks, of samples used in Check the Rhime. And the lyrics via OHHLA.com (Original Hip-Hop Lyrics Archive).