Dig of the Month: A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
The legacy of the group consisting of 4 members (Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi) began in 1985 when one of the greatest hip hop groups that ever walked the Earth, formed. A Tribe Called Quest. The group produced five stellar albums from 1990 to 1998. However, this April 17th marked the 28th birthday of their debut album: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. This particular musical piece indisputably opened a new decade in rap and made an enormous influence on the sound of hip hop as we know it today. Introduction of melody, unique musical aesthetic and jazzy beats were a big part of it, but most of all the refreshing lightheartedness, playful poetic humor and the effortless side-step from the toughness of MCs was a complete gamechanger at the time. The heritage of ATCQ carried a very important message: Celebrate you, whoever you are. And the whole journey started right here on this classic album. Time to celebrate.

‘Sit back, relax, listen to some hip-hop.’ -Phife Dawg, Ham ‘N’ Eggs


This 25th Anniversary Deluxe Silver Edition on Spotify also includes
3 bonus track remixes by CeeLo Green, Pharell and J.Cole, for your enjoyment. For the 25th birthday of the groups seminal album, Chris Read of Wax Poetics presented an exclusive mixtape containing album cuts, alternate versions, b-sides, interview snippets and of course original sample material used in the album’s production. 

In 1990, the theme in rap music was predominantly tough. Lead by MC’s like Public Enemy, N.W.A. and KRS One amongst many others, most represented a ultra masculine hardcore presence and streetwise lyrics. This is precisely the time when A Tribe Called Quest, barely out of their teens, arrived on the scene as an antithesis just one year after De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising album and continued to flip the script around with their uplifting, humble, intellectual and positive-minded poetry. The whole thing about People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm is not only the remarkable MC skills, but also the attitude and confidence with which the album is delivered and the wide sonic vocabulary using refreshingly groovy instrumentation, rhythms, textures and jazz samples (which blew up enormously after this album has arrived).

From Lou Reed’s dreamy bass line on ‘Can I Kick It’, through joyful sun-soaked sample on the witty story song  ‘I Left My Wallet In El Segundo’ and the smooth Bonita Applebum lovesong that basically helped inspire the whole Neo-soul movement, the energy that this album transcends from top to bottom is magically fun, poetic and revolutionary in its own way. 
Tribe were members of the socially conscious movement called the Native Tongues Collective

De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and The Jungle Brothers were the core members of the posse, along with Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Black Sheep, Fu-Schnickens, Chi-Ali, French MC Lucien Revolucien (see 2nd track on the album: ‘Luck of Lucien’) and a whole list of peripheral members. The philosophy of The Native Tongues revolved around embracing Afrocentrism, open-minded lyricism and spreading it amongst the hip hop community and beyond. Mellow rhymes focused on intelligent message tracks, rarely sounding over-serious, instead just kickin’ it, having fun, being good to one another. The track below, Buddy, is certainly a fine demonstration of that vibe.

Today, many consider the first time they heard the album a formative statement and turning point in their lives. Tribe successfully inspired many future rap acts that followed in their footsteps. For instance, whenever we listen to the music of legends such as Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Kanye West, Outkast, Pharell, Common or Tyler the Creator among numerous others, the influence is indisputable. The group never stopped changing and innovating. Even now, after all this time, ATCQ remains a universal symbol of acceptance and individuality with their names carved permanently into the great walls of hip-hop history.

Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor featured on only 4 of 14 songs on the debut album, compared to his amount of involvement on the following albums. However, his lines and distinct flow have spoken volumes and anchored numerous landmark albums. His high pitch voice, subtle double meaning lines, and devastatingly clever punchlines. He passed away untimely in March, 2 years ago, at the age of 45 due to complications resulting from diabetes, right before the groups release of their 6th studio album ‘We Got It From Here, Thank You For Your Service’. Impossibly soon. Phife will sorely be missed by all those who love hip-hop and the culture. Rest in Power Phife <3

Boy this track really has a lot of flavor
When it comes to rhythms, Quest is your savior
Follow us for the funky behavior
Make a note on the rhythm we gave ya
Feel free, drop ya pants, check ya ha-ir
Do you like the garments that we wear?
I instruct you to be the obeyer
A rhythm recipe that you’ll savor
Doesn’t matter if you’re minor or major
Yes the Tribe of the game we’re a player
As you inhale like a breath of fresh air
Can I kick it?’

 

-Phife Dawg’s iconic verse on Can I Kick It’ / Track #8

 

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