So, it’s Day 9 of 12 Days of Early 90’s Hip Hop and we’re on a Quest in 1993…
Midnight Marauders – A Tribe Called Quest (1993)
Produced by A Tribe Called Quest, Large Professor and Skeff Anselm
You couldn’t have a definitive list of early 90’s Hip Hop without including Q-Tip and crew. This LP, the group’s third album (all of which are classics) came right after what is usually referred to as their best, Low End Theory. While that was much more in-keeping with the band’s afrocentric vibe and cemented the band as one of the Golden Age’s pioneers, I have to say for my money, I really enjoy this one. It took on some Gangsta Rap elements that were prevalent at the time (whilst still maintaining some of their signature Jazz sounds). Rolling Stone Magazine slaughtered this album in their 1993 review, it seems to me because they wanted ATCQ to retain the positivity from earlier cuts and not succumb to commercial negativity. That’s a very partial perspective though. I’m not sure this record suffers from the Gangsta element and it retains that unique, weird Tribe feel.
It’s exceptionally well produced, relying heavily on bass. We all love a little bit of bass, don’t lie. What’s a Hip Hop album without it? Plus this is an album you can fuck to, not really the track Hot Sex though – I may sue. It has a lot of (not hideously regressive) sexual content – typified in Electric Relaxation – and a female robotic narrator throughout. In addition, the flow is just so pretty. Q-Tip and Phife worked so well together and there is a lyricism that is really unique to the band. Stand out tracks include Award Tour (featuring De La Soul’s Trugoy) and We Can get Down. Samples come from the likes of Bill Cosby, Kool and The Gang and Biz Markie.
The album in theme and content is out there, but that bizarreness is the appeal with Tribe. You should own this.