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 Marauders – Lyrics 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).

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