14 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

A Tribe Called Quest helped give rap music a new sound and attitude on albums like 1990's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and 1991's The Low End Theory, where the quartet's casual cool, jazz-heavy sample crate, and free-wheeling experimentation contributed to the nascent movement eventually dubbed "alternative hip-hop." Their third album, 1993's Midnight Marauders, may not be as influential, but it could be their most beloved. Released the same year as Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang, KRS-One's Return of the Boom Bap, and Black Moon's Enta Da Stage, the album was perhaps the lushest and funkiest in a movement of technically proficient, rhythmically propulsive, purist-friendly rap music taking the art form back to its hard-hitting New York roots. Tribe’s melodies still chilled in that mellow nexus of ’70s jazz, funk, and soul—think Roy Ayers, George Duke, Minnie Riperton, and Weldon Irvine—but their drums cracked and knocked like they were made to blow headphone speakers.

Hit singles like "Electric Relaxation" and "Award Tour" (the group's highest charting song to date) represent the album's commitment to calm demeanors, rugged beats, and pop savvy. The group continued the conscious streak that made them rap legends: "Sucka Nigga" is rapper Q-Tip's complicated thesis on the politics of using the N-word, which had been going through the process of being reclaimed by fellow rappers. But the album's most iconic lines were giddy fun that set them apart. Though there's no shortage of Phife Dawg gems here, few can top this boast from "Oh My God": "Mr. Energetic/Who me, sound pathetic?/When's the last time you heard a funky diabetic?"

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A Tribe Called Quest helped give rap music a new sound and attitude on albums like 1990's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and 1991's The Low End Theory, where the quartet's casual cool, jazz-heavy sample crate, and free-wheeling experimentation contributed to the nascent movement eventually dubbed "alternative hip-hop." Their third album, 1993's Midnight Marauders, may not be as influential, but it could be their most beloved. Released the same year as Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang, KRS-One's Return of the Boom Bap, and Black Moon's Enta Da Stage, the album was perhaps the lushest and funkiest in a movement of technically proficient, rhythmically propulsive, purist-friendly rap music taking the art form back to its hard-hitting New York roots. Tribe’s melodies still chilled in that mellow nexus of ’70s jazz, funk, and soul—think Roy Ayers, George Duke, Minnie Riperton, and Weldon Irvine—but their drums cracked and knocked like they were made to blow headphone speakers.

Hit singles like "Electric Relaxation" and "Award Tour" (the group's highest charting song to date) represent the album's commitment to calm demeanors, rugged beats, and pop savvy. The group continued the conscious streak that made them rap legends: "Sucka Nigga" is rapper Q-Tip's complicated thesis on the politics of using the N-word, which had been going through the process of being reclaimed by fellow rappers. But the album's most iconic lines were giddy fun that set them apart. Though there's no shortage of Phife Dawg gems here, few can top this boast from "Oh My God": "Mr. Energetic/Who me, sound pathetic?/When's the last time you heard a funky diabetic?"

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics.
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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
422 Ratings

422 Ratings

jazztenorsaxdude ,

just awesome

A Tribe Called Quest does hip-hop the right way. The beat in Sucka N***a was taken from a jazz song called Red Clay by Freddie Hubbard. I'm a sax player, and I love how they take jazz and make it into hip-hop. Right on.

Westside Pride ,

True Hip Hop right here!

This album is amazing, my favorite from the group. Every single song has something special about it which makes the album great to listen straight through. It is a shame this kind of rap isn't going on today.

The 18th Letter ,

One of the Most Influential Albums in Hip Hop History...

...this album will go down in the books as one that forced the music to change direction. From production to rhymes, the album has no flaws. Award Tour was one of the most popular singles of the later half of the decade due to its infectious melody and the voice of a member of De La Soul on the hook. Sucka N***a started conversations throughout the ghettos of the country about the use of the N word and what it really stood for. Electric Relaxation was the sexiest hip hop track recorded at that time, with a bass guitar beat that was stuck in your head for days.

Again, not enough can be said about ATCQ's Midnight Marauders. It is a classic.

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