A Tribe Called Quest stands as one of rap’s best groups and its most mysterious. The New York quartet of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi released its debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm,” in 1990 and earned acclaim with their unorthodox rhyme styles, innovative production and divergent song structure on such cuts as “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It?”
Filmmaker and Tribe fan Michael Rapaport, known mostly for his acting work, started filming the group in 2008 for a documentary that would become “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest.” The film opens in New York and Los Angeles July 8.
As the group prepares for the release of its documentary, Phife sat down with us to detail his Top 5 Tribe tracks, even though he listed six.
5. Money Maker
Album: “The Love Movement,” limited edition version (1998)
I like that record a lot because the track was just blazing and those are some of Tip’s best rhymes that I ever heard him spit. I mean, the flow, the message, everything. If you listen to the hook, you’d just think it’s a regular party record where he’s not saying much.
But when you listen to rhyme for rhyme, line for line, he’s really talking about something. He definitely has a message to give. One of the lines is, ‘If you the baby daddy, then uplift the kids.’ That’s Q-Tip in a nutshell. That’s the Q-Tip I know. That’s definitely one of my favorite records. It’s very underrated as far as our catalog is concerned.
4. God Lives Through
Album: “Midnight Marauders” (1993)
“I just like that record a lot. I’m not sure why. I just like the laid-backness of the track, but the rhymes are just blow, blow, blow. Banging. I like Q-Tip’s verse. I like my verse. It came together quite nicely and it was originally supposed to be the remix for “Oh My God.” I just like that record a lot.
3. Scenario (Remix)
Album: The original version appeared on “The Low End Theory” (1991) and the remix arrived in 1992
“Kid Hood, who passed away three days after he did that record with us, I thought he was the next best thing that was going to come out since sliced bread. All of us agreed that he was that guy. It was just a straight-up free-for-all on that record.
We had a lot of fun doing it. We had a lot of fun doing both “Scenarios,” to be honest, but I definitely enjoyed the remix because I really didn’t think that there could be anything better than the original and Tip proved me wrong once again with his production on that joint. Everybody just went in on it.”
2. Award Tour and Find A Way
Album: “Award Tour” appeared on“Midnight Marauders” (1993) and “Find A Way” appeared on “The Love Movement” (1998)
“That “Find A Way” is one of the best beats that we ever rhymed to, as far as I’m concerned. J-Dilla did that track and the beat just knocks. Even in shows to this day, that’s my favorite song to perform because of the way the beat comes in. It’s a tie with “Award Tour” because of how that beat comes in as well. It’s a production thing with me. If I’m not feeling the production, I don’t really give it the time of day.”
1. Check The Rime
Album: “The Low End Theory” (1991)
“That was like my coming out party as far as showing and proving what I was capable of. Nobody really knew. You guys still don’t understand or know what Jarobi was capable of to this day. I felt like that was my, ‘Ok. Here you have it. No more questions,’ other than can he do it again? I think I answered that question.”
For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker
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