A Tribe Called Quest was a hip hop group that started up in Queens, New York. From 1985 to 1998, they built a formidable reputation for themselves before announcing that they were going their separate ways just a bit before the release of their fifth studio album in September of 1998. However, that wasn’t the end of things. A Tribe Called Quest reunited in 2006 before going on to tour the United States. They managed to release a sixth studio album in 2016 after the untimely death of Phife Dawg from diabetes-related complications, meaning that this is expected to be their last studio album as well. Still, A Tribe Called Quest have more than managed to leave their name in the history books, as shown by how they are considered to be pioneers for alternative hip hop as a whole.
6. Beats, Rhymes and Life
This was A Tribe Called Quest’s fourth studio album, which came out three years after the very successful Midnight Marauders. As such, the group saw some significant changes in that interval. For example, Phife Dawg had moved to Atlanta. Similarly, Q-Tip had converted to Islam. On top of that, Jay Dee had become a member of the group’s production team. Unsurprisingly, these changes had a noticeable effect on the group, with an excellent example being Q-Tip’s belief that his conversion made everything more serious. This was presumably one of the reasons that Beats, Rhymes and Life became A Tribe Called Quest’s darkest release, which was particularly noticeable because that was such a departure from what had been released before it. For the most part, the studio album received a positive reception. However, there were also those who voiced criticisms such as the group members sounding bored, confused, and otherwise unpleasant to them.
5. The Love Movement
Speaking of which, The Love Movement was the studio album that followed Beats, Rhymes and Life. Moreover, it would be the group’s last until their sixth studio album in 2016. This was presumably not helped by the fact that the making of the studio album encountered some serious difficulties. For those who are curious, The Love Movement was originally supposed to come out in May of 1998. Unfortunately, a fire in Q-Tip’s recording studio took out his record collection as well as a computer containing a lot of the group’s unreleased songs. Thanks to that, the making of the studio album took a serious hit, with the result that its release was delayed until September of 1998. Music-wise, The Love Movement followed in the footsteps of its immediate predecessor, meaning that it bore a lot of similarities.
4. We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service
The Love Movement received somewhat mixed opinions. As such, there were people who were less than happy that it seemed like it would be the final release of A Tribe Called Quest for a very long time. Said individuals welcomed the news when the making of a sixth studio album was announced, though to be fair, that sense of jubilation was shared by the rest of the fan base as well. As the story goes, the group performed together a few times, with the result that they became so pumped up in spite of the issues that had caused them to break up in the first place that they decided to give recording another go. Apparently, Phife Dawg thought that they wouldn’t be able to put out anything longer than an EP, but as it turned out, A Tribe Called Quest managed to get enough material for an actual full-length release. There are plenty of acts that would have stumbled after so long away from one another. However, the group wowed listeners, so much so that some of the critics have essentially called the release a triumph for not just them but also the kind of music that they championed throughout their careers.
3. The Low End Theory
Ranking A Tribe Called Quest’s releases gets real complicated real fast because most of them are held in such high regard. For instance, consider The Low End Theory, which has somehow managed to become even better-perceived over time. Something that can be explained by its influence upon hip-hop. For example, this is the studio album that served as Phife Dawg’s breakout as well as the studio album that launched Busta Rhymes’ solo career. Similarly, this is one of the studio albums that pushed the boundaries of what hip hop could be by further cementing alternative hip hop in the popular consciousness.
2. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Naturally, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was also extremely influential on alternative hip hop. After all, it was A Tribe Called Quest’s debut studio album, meaning that it paved the way for everything that followed. As mentioned earlier, the group’s earlier work was often fun, poetic, and light-hearted. Three things that don’t sound particularly unusual in the present time, not least because this was one of the studio albums that made such things normal for the group’s kind of music. Due to this, many hip hop and R&B artists have been influenced by this release, with examples including but not limited to Fugees, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams.
1. Midnight Marauders
The success of Low End Theory meant that A Tribe Called Quest was under considerable pressure to match its success. They put in a lot of hard work, with the result that by the time that they were ready to release, they were also confident in what they had created. As it turned out, that confidence proved to be well-founded because Midnight Marauders is often considered to be the peak for the group as well as the Native Tongues movement to which they belonged. Combined, it is no wonder that this is often considered to be one of the best hip hop albums ever made, not least because of the sheer extent of its influence on everything that came afterwards.