Discography Check: A Tribe Called Quest

By @TrueGodImmortal 

Now, when talking about classic Hip hop, one has to acknowledge the legacy that the Queens collective A Tribe Called Quest has. Lyrically and sonically amazing, the group built up a hell of a catalog over their run, which spawns about a decade. They're recognized for their 2nd and 3rd albums being classics, but what about their other albums? Today, we take a look at their discography.

*People's Instinctive Travels And the Paths Of Rhythm 

-This album released in 1990 began the ascension of the group and is personally a classic to me as well. Now, the criticism for this album has always been that it was a bit immature and seemed unfocused, but I never saw this album as such. I've always looked at this album as one that showcased the group's youth and creativity, while having fun in the same breath.

Songs like "Luck of Lucien", "After Hours", the classic "Can I Kick It", as well as the iconic "Bonita Applebum" all fill out the album in a way that can't be rivaled. The flow and structure of the album may not be as cohesive as their future albums, but this one was definitely a solid album, and I truly can still listen to it almost without any skips over 25 years later. That should be a testament to the greatness of it without question.

Rating: 8 out of 10

*The Low End Theory 

-Reportedly inspired by the NWA Straight Outta Compton album, and recorded during the process of a member leaving(Jarobi left to study culinary arts), the group came strong in the fall of 1991 with a true classic and to many, the best Tribe album without a doubt. One of the first projects in hip hop to truly feature jazz fusions, this album is a true lesson in jazz hip hop music. They attempted to provide an experience that touched on real issues, while still rocking for the culture and giving you the Tribe vibe that came from the debut album. 

Songs such as "Verses From The Abstract", "Vibes and Stuff", "Check The Rhime", "Jazz (We Got)", and the iconic posse cut "Scenario" all make this album special. There isn't a weak track here, the album is fluid and cohesive, and Q-Tip brings some of his best verses here while Phife steps up big time. Personally, this is the best overall Tribe album to me, and its greatness can not be debated. 

Rating: 10 out of 10 

*Midnight Marauders

-Some say this is the best Tribe album ever. I don't agree with that, but you can certainly make the case for this album as it is truly a classic. The album is essentially the most commercial and critically successful album from the group as the classic "Award Tour" was their highest charting single to date and the iconic "Electric Relaxation" is yet another successful hit which became the theme song for The Wayans Bros. TV show for some years as well. Well not as jazz centered completely as The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders is still a classic jazz hip hop album, and it possesses a sense of aggressive melody in the music and the production.

Where this album succeeds is the verses from both Phife and Tip, along with the catchy hooks on their main singles, fueling this album to go platinum quite fast. It stands as one of the most solid albums in hip hop history and is definitely a top contender for the best album in the discography of Tribe.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

*Beats, Rhymes and Life

-This 1996 album is a bit darker than what we were used to from Tribe. Many don't enjoy this album as much, but I actually love this album. I think it's just as good as their debut and a near classic even. While the content and tone was a bit darker than what we were used to from the group, it still flowed perfectly. With the Ummah production crew officially formed and Jay Dee (Dilla) now contributing, it added a boost to the already amazing production, in my opinion. The album would be successful, hitting no. 1 on the Billboard 200 and going platinum quickly as well, though none of the singles really charted heavy. Out of the two singles released, "Stressed Out" with Consequence and Faith Evans is my favorite and it is one of my favorite Tribe songs ever. It's relatable, honest, and Faith kills the hook with out a doubt.

The rest of the album is a bit lacking in cohesiveness, but the production and the lyricism never seems to slow down. Q-Tip kills his verse on "Keeping It Moving", addressing the shots thrown at him during the East Coast vs West Coast beef, and his stance on it. Songs like "Jam", "Phony Rappers", and more fill out this album, creating something special, though not as special as their 2nd and 3rd albums. While this 1996 release can't compare to the two undeniable classics, it's still a really dope album in general.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

*The Love Movement

-So, Tribe doesn't have the most extensive discography as we see. 5 albums long, and this is the fifth and final album, minus the anthology or any greatest hits or remix projects (which don't count really anyway). The Love Movement was appreciated as more of a positive vibe album than Beats, Rhymes and Life, and while the album is more in the likeness of their 2 classics, the album drags just a bit in certain spots. Musically, there is nothing but classics on here production wise, as The Ummah provide the bulk of the smooth jazzy beats here, and they do not disappoint.

Now, where things get tricky on this album is the filler and interludes, and a few tracks that could have been left off. The album feels a bit off in spots, but with songs like "Find A Way", "Rock, Rock Yall", Pad and Pen", and "Steppin It Up", the overall quality is damn good. Almost on par with their debut, and in some ways, better than Beats, Rhymes and Life, but in some ways it isn't. Regardless, I enjoyed this album and I think it deserves a revisit.

Rating: 7 out of 10

With no true flops or bad albums, and no real filler in the catalog, Tribe has one of the best discographies in hip hop. Reflect on these albums and enjoy them.



Popular Posts