This might have been the album Tribe Called Quest wanted to make from the very beginning. It's their most even, consistent album of the original trilogy that also includes People's Instinctive Travels...
and The Low End Theory
. But in spite of this, or maybe because of it, it's also their most uninteresting. With so many competent tracks, there's no chance for something to stand out above the pack, like "Scenario" did on Low End Theory
or "Can I Kick It" did on People's Instinctive Travels
. The celebration is there ("Stir It Up"), the jazz drums kick ("Oh My God"), and the stand-up bass dribbles, keeping perfect pace with Q-Tip's unmistakable mic-touch ("Electric Relaxation"). There's even a Native Tongues armistice/reunion with De La Soul ("Awards Tour"). Although it comes together like a seamless tutorial in jazz hip-hop style, it comes together so damn well that it's hard for any one track to excel, cursing the album with consistent quality. --Todd Levin