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A Tribe Called Quest

Without question the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest jump-started and perfected the hip-hop alternative to hardcore and gangsta rap. In essence, they abandoned the macho posturing rap music had been constructed upon, and focused instead on abstract philosophy and message tracks. The "sucka MC" theme had never been completely ignored in hip-hop, but Tribe confronted numerous black issues -- date rape, use of the word n**ger, the trials and tribulations of the rap industry -- all of which overpowered the occasional game of the dozens. Just as powerful musically, Quest built upon De La Soul's jazz-rap revolution, basing tracks around laid-back samples instead of the played-out James Brown-fests which many rappers had made a cottage industry by the late '80s. Comprised of Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Phife, A Tribe Called Quest debuted in 1989 and released their debut album one year later. Second album The Low End Theory was, quite simply, the most consistent and flowing hip-hop album ever recorded, though the trio moved closer to their harder contemporaries on 1993's Midnight Marauders. A spot on the 1994 Lollapalooza Tour showed their influence with the alternative crowd -- always a bedrock of A Tribe Called Quest's support -- but the group kept it real on 1996's Beats, Rhymes and Life, a dedication to the streets and the hip-hop underground.

A Tribe Called Quest was formed in 1988, though both Q-Tip (b. Jonathan Davis) and Phife (b. Malik Taylor) had grown up together in Queens. Q-Tip met DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad while at high school and, after being named by the Jungle Brothers (who attended the same school), the trio began performing. A Tribe Called Quest's recording debut came in August 1989, when their single, "Description of a Fool," appeared on a tiny area label (though Q-Tip had previously guested on several tracks from De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising and later appeared on Deee-Lite's "Groove Is in the Heart").

Signed to Jive Records by 1989, A Tribe Called Quest released their first album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, one year later. Much like De La Soul, Tribe looked more to jazz as well as '70s rock for their sample base -- "Can I Kick It?" plundered Lou Reed's classic "Walk on the Wild Side" and made it viable in a hip-hop context. No matter how solid their debut was, second album The Low End Theory outdid all expectations and has held up as perhaps the best hip-hop LP of all time.

The Low End Theory had included several tracks with props to hip-hop friends, and A Tribe Called Quest cemented their support of the rap community with 1993's Midnight Marauders. The album cover and booklet insert included the faces of more than 50 rappers -- including obvious choices such as De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers -- as well as mild surprises like the Beastie Boys, Ice-T, and Heavy D. Though impossible to trump Low End's brilliance, the LP offered several classics (including Tribe's most infectious single to date, "Award Tour") and a harder sound than the first two albums. During the summer of 1994, A Tribe Called Quest toured as the obligatory rap act on the Lollapalooza Festival lineup, and spent a quiet 1995, marked only by several production jobs for Q-Tip. Returning in 1996 with their fourth LP, Beats, Rhymes and Life, Tribe showed signs of wear; it was a good album, but proved less striking than The Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders. While touring in support of 1998's The Love Movement, the group announced their impending breakup. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Good music
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msvalaine
Kafelta?
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Been a fan since day one. Tribe forever.
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ALL THE TIME TIP !!!!
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arichardson1 3 1 1
This is real MUSIC!!!!
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The sound of the late 80's early 90's are the sounds of Gold. Music will never have a sound like this again.
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Yo CFlo, I respect that mindset but there is a lot of today's hip hop that's dope but ain't mainstream. Logic, J Cole, Kendrick, Blu, and Action Bronson. If you don't listen to em, check em out man. They spit real s**t and it has a non-mainstre a m , yet modern, sound that hits the soul like old school hip hop does.
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Damn! I left my wallet in El Segundo!
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These dudes are the truth
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Timeless classic.. The joint neva gets old . I will never sell out to today's mainstream Hip Hop.
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a.smith079
I love love love them and their messages..wh a t happened with this commercial rap?
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1once again....jam m i n
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��������✌
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kah91512
TGIATCQ
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jesserogers9 2
Chimichanga
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Low End Theory aKillasic!! For Life!!
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marlo1987.sh
this station is crazy
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marlo1987.sh
hell yea!!!
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I would give just about anything to go back to the first time I heard this album. Maaan, those were the days!!!
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Dope.
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raishawnb7
Classic hip hop
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pathsone
Super legit band and albums but I don't know if I agree with the best hip hop album of all time stance
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Most deff cant forget what's great
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I still play this album and it never gets old. Real hip hop here
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kah91512
Only 13 years old and i love ATCQ
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BEEN BUMPING THIS S**T FOR OVER 20 years
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No doubt the most talented and artistically explorative of all rap group. LL Cool J may have been the most famous in the rap business, but the Tribe knows how to feed some Jazz to the New-School B-Boys.
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Greatest rap group of all time and the reason why these groups that sound like them even exist.
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Yes..take me back
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Da Best Ever...
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Best Hip Hop group of all time! No question. The Low End Theory outdid all expectations and has held up as perhaps the best hip-hop LP of all time No doubt!
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scollin69
legends....w h a t is 2015 compared to this generation.. . . . Y o u n g thug? this is real music!! TCQ
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jasenycbx
get lit to this
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I was watching the documentary last night on HBO. I enjoyed it. Classic crew.
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Cool.song
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Classic
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Buggin Out!!!!!
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I like to pull tha plug on todays Hip Hop but I cant n thats Bug!!!
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You on point tip, all the time Phife...

Best rap ever. These guys are legends.
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A TRIBE....... . . . . . . ! My TRIBE! #HIPHOPHEAD. . . . S o Yea....#Weak I n T h e K n e e s #RelaxYourse l f
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bessolofamil y 1
Can I Kick It? plundered Lou Reed's classic Walk on the Wild Side and made it viable in a hip-hop context. YES! love this song so much. Tribe Called Quest killin it.
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deejestina
Nodding my head hard
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abiyoyobayoy o
They are the beesssstttt!
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The 90's seem so far away these days
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The 90's seem so far away theses days.
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boofy775
Speaking in tounges baby.. Tribal all the way.
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good music
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Jkjjkjkljjkk k m k l k m m k k k k k m k k k l k k k k k j k k j l j j k k l j k i o k o i o o j l l u j k k o k k o k l k j l k o k
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Low End Theory cds aren't made like that anymore. You can listen to it from beginning to end..... It's what they call a Classic or a 5 Mic!!!!
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Reminds me of good times, just kicking back my brother Chad
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