Beats, Rhymes & Life
After three albums in as many years, A Tribe Called Quest took almost the same length of time to allow their fourth to come to the boil. And it’s a moody, uneasy album simmering with rap beef fall-out and self-aggrandizing. “Phony Rappers” wastes no time in calling out cheque-chasing MCs, “Keeping It Moving” haughtily obliterates fledgling West and East coast tensions, while “Crew” is a haunting, gunfire-punctuated cautionary tale of betrayal within a friendship group. However, the group’s ear for disarming jazz-funk hooks and faultless tag-team flow means the darkness remains irresistible.