A Tribe Called Quest

(Copyright © 1999-2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
People's Instinctive Travels (1990), 6.5/10
The Low End Theory (1991), 7/10
Midnight Marauders (1993), 6.5/10
Beats Rhymes and Life (1996), 5/10
The Love Movement (1999), 6/10
Q-Tip: Amplified (1999), 6/10
Q-Tip: Kamaal the Abstract (2002), 5/10
We Got it from Here (2016), 6.5/10

New York's "Native Tongues" posse, perhaps the most creative of them all (Jungle Brothers, Afrika Bambaata, De La Soul, Queen Latifah) was best epitomized by A Tribe Called Quest: rapper Jonathan "Q-Tip" Davis, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Malik "Phife" Taylor (and originally also rapper Jarobi White).

Their People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990), that sampled both rock and soul musicians, and featured brilliant arrangements and smooth narratives (Bonita Applebum, I Left My Wallet In El Segundo), and especially their second album The Low End Theory (1991) were two of the earliest attempts at jazz-hop fusion. The latter has Ron Carter guesting on bass in Verses From The Abstract. While less innovative, Midnight Marauders (1993) was perhaps their most personal statement, and boasted the most accomplished songs (Oh My God, Award Tour).

Beats Rhymes and Life (1996), produced by Dilla (under the moniker Ummah), marked a turn towards more conventional songwriting, with plenty of quotations from pop and rock music, and and soul-infected hit singles. The underrated The Love Movement (1999) was marked by Dilla's warped, droning, booming sound that often made the samples unrecognizable and created a hallucinated mood (Like It Like That, Pad & Pen). The album also contains the single Find a Way and the catchy and hilarious Da Booty.

The "Native Tongue" movement heralded the advent of a generation of intellectual, philosophical, sociological rappers that investigated the condition of the African-American soul rather than the street epics of gangsters.

Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis) showed all the limits of his abstract" aesthetic on his solo albums Amplified (1999) and Kamaal the Abstract (2002), that would be released only in 2009 and marked the incorporation of soul (he also sings, not just raps), funk and jazz. After a long hiatus, he returned with The Renaissance (2008).

Ali Shaheed Muhammad released the solo Shaheedullah and Stereotypes (Garden Seekers, 2005), which is basically easy-listening music for rappers.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giuseppe Schiavoni)

La posse di New York "Native Tongues", forse la più creativa di tutto il gruppo (Jungle Brothers, Afrika Bambaata, De La Soul, Queen Latifah), è stata rappresentata al meglio dagli A Tribe Called Quest: i rapper Jonathan "Q-Tip" Davis, Ali Shaheed Muhammad e Malik "Phife" Taylor.

Il loro People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990), che unisce rock e soul, e contiene arrangiamenti scintillanti e amabili racconti (Bonita Applebum, I Left My Wallet In El Segundo), e soprattutto il secondo album, The Low End Theory (1991), sono stati due fra i primi tentativi di fondere jazz e hip-hop. Il secondo ospita Ron Carter al basso in Verses From The Abstract. Invece il meno innovativo Midnight Marauders (1993) è forse la loro opera più personale, e inoltre presenta le loro canzoni più articolate (Oh My God, Award Tour). Beats Rhymes and Life (1996) segna una svolta verso un songwriting più convenzionale, con molte citazioni dalla musica pop e rock, e singoli da classifica influenzati dal soul; The Love Movement (1999) è ancora più prevedibile.

Il movimento "Native Tongue" ha sancito l’avvento di una generazione di rapper intellettuali, che affrontano filosoficamente e sociologicamente la condizione interiore degli Afroamericani, un approccio più profondo rispetto all’iconografia stradaiola del gangsta-rap.

Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis) mostra tutti i limiti della sua estetica "astratta" nei suoi album solisti Amplified (1999) e Kamaal the Abstract (2002), pubblicato solo sette anni dopo.

Ali Shaheed Muhammad realizza da solista Shaheedullah and Stereotypes (Garden Seekers, 2005), ma non è altro che musica leggera per rapper.

A Tribe Called Quest's rapper Phife Dawg died in 2016 at the age of 45, just when Q-Tip and dj/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammed had launched solo projects, but that didn't stop A Tribe Called Quest from reuniting and, after an 18-year-hiatus, releasing We Got it from Here Thank You 4 Your Service (2016), featuring Busta Rhymes, Anderson Paak, Jack White, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Talib Kweli. An impressive return to form, the album is designed to be their magnum opus. It evokes the "boom-bap" sound of the 1990s while replacing the jazz overtones with a smooth and warm production (especially on opener The Space Program). Their leftist political anthems (notably the energetic We the People) mix with sentimental moments (Lost Somebody and The Killing Season), while the art of vocal counterpoint is brought to an almost baroque level (Solid Wall of Sound) and catchy hooks abound (Melatonin, The Donald).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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