March 16, 2015

A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory


I can't really explain why A Tribe Called Quest is so highly regarded. I see them as 90s version of Run The Jewels or Kendrick Lamar; a textbook example of a tame piece of music being overly praised because it's passed the test socially and critically to be loved by everyone. As in Kendrick's case that isn't always a bad thing, but when we get an album like this we need to dig a little deeper and see what kind of power is actually there. Call me contrarian, but I don't think I'm overstepping when I call Q-Tip and Phife Dawg boring. Are they trying to subvert the classic hip hop flow and personality? Maybe; or maybe they're trying to build on it, but nowhere on this album do I hear any impressive rhythm or lyrics to justify the classic that this is. The lyrics are almost always forced and either way too corny or not corny enough to fill the shoes of the Native Tongues records to come before this. Dr. Seus rhymes just don't work well with monotone rappers. I'll guess that the main appeal for most listeners is that where Jungle Brothers applied this strange style of lyricism to pure pro-black Zulu Nation themes and De La Soul brought it to a fluttery collage of hip hop sampling and rapping genius, Tribe makes similar, easy to digest lyrics with a hint of everything that are an easy pair with a cool and slightly different beat. Not trying to diss on that approach since there was a time like three years ago when I this was a favorite of mine, but I must say that Tribe's albums weren't made to last for me personally and become totally outshined by their affiliates the more I listened. If you want Q-Tip at his best, listen to his secret work on The Infamous or that actually fantastic appearance of his on Get It Together.

Sample

The Low End Theory