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The Art of Moving Butts
on December 6, 2003
There is a whole generation out there full of people who just barely missed out on the evolution of rap music into what it is today. These are guys who weren't alive when hip-hop was born. These poor souls were still trying to master the alphabet when Run-D.M.C. started raising hell in '86. The only reason these kids even recognize artists like Grandmaster Flash or Kurtis Blow is from playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Just think of the thousands of rap listeners around the world who know nothing of the very foundation of what they now hear on the radio.
It is a tragedy, but one that can be rectified, starting with an introduction to the rhythm that has been eagerly waiting for you at the end of that dark tunnel. However, since you are a little behind, your Quest should begin... well... at the end. Not unlike the Cliff�s Notes version of Crime and Punishment, Anthology is an abbreviated guide through masterful art. As a sort of microcosm of this notion, I will now do my best to tell you everything that you need to know before buying this album.
Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (MC, MC, DJ respectively) are the primary members of A Tribe Called Quest. They are responsible for an extremely successful discography of jazz-rap that, along with the work of De La Soul, brought Afrika Bambaataa's Zulu Nation back into the spotlight.
A Tribe Called Quest stands as one of the most innovative hip-hop groups in history. To the naked ear, the Tribe's music just sounds like a couple guys freestylin' over a simple bass line. After subsequent listens, however, their music reveals incredibly smart rhymes that actually flow with the beats magnificently. In turn, they take the songs to a whole new level.
Although this album merely scratches the surface of the Tribe's legendary career, Anthology is absolutely, without question, the best place to start for newcomers. Unfortunately, for the group's more seasoned travelers, it provides no new material worth checking out. The special edition features a few remixes, but these should be reserved for fanatics only (none of them really sparked my interest).
Track by track:
Check The Rhyme - This track made it all the way to #1 on the Hot Rap Singles chart back in 1991. Originally from the Tribe's critically lauded second LP, Low End Theory.
Bonita Applebum - Q-Tip has a crush. Hmmm... maybe a song would help seduce her...
Award Tour - Another chart-topper, Award Tour is driven by fantastic rhymes from Tip and Phife Dawg along with an irresistible keyboard loop. Essential lyric:
"I learned how to build mics in my workshop class
So give me this award, and let's not make it the last"
Can I Kick It? - Yes they can. More specifically, the Tribe kicks it to a Lou Reed guitar loop on this classic track from their free-flowing debut, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
Scenario - The second hit single spawned from Low End Theory, this song is also famous for formally introducing Busta Rhymes to the music world.
Buggin' Out - They just repeat the title over and over for the chorus... so why do I like this song so much?
If The Papes Come - First appearing on the soundtrack to the motion picture Mi Vida Loca, this track is an amazing gem of the bizarre variety.
Electric Relaxation - 1993's Midnight Marauders proved that lightning really can strike thrice. Electric Relaxation is just plain cool. No... ice cold.
Jazz (We've Got) - Seriously, if you enjoy what you hear on Anthology go out and buy Low End Theory. This one is yet another smooth classic off that album.
I Left My Wallet In El Segundo - A journey to the middle of nowhere (anywhere would�ve been better). This is my personal favorite Tribe track. It got in my head in '91 and hasn�t left since.
Hot Sex - First appearing on a rare club compilation, Hot Sex was later appropriately placed on the Tribe's 5th LP, The Love Movement.
Oh My God - Undeniably catchy single from Midnight Marauders.
Stressed Out - A Tribe Called Quest hit a bump in the road with Beats, Rhymes, and Life (4th album). Although the disc is more highly regarded these days, the listener is forced to wait until track 13 for its first contribution to Anthology. Stressed Out is more R&B flavored and features Faith Evans.
Luck of Lucien - Not sure if I've ever used the term "groovy" to describe a song before, but Luck of Lucien is as close as they come. Also, make sure and listen to Phife's conversation in the background during the break. Good stuff.
Description of a Fool - The closing track on People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm... and the beginning of a legacy.
Keeping It Moving - Underrated 2nd track from Beats, Rhymes, and Life. Really has a nice beat and Tip does his usual best.
Find a Way - Wonderful single off of The Love Movement. Probably the Tribe's best slower paced song.
Sucka N***a - Listen before judging. Remember, these are not a hardcore rappers.
Vivrant Thing - A really good bonus track. I call it bonus because it's from Q-Tip's first solo album, Amplified (excellent).
Bottom line: While not offering any quality new or rare material, Anthology (being a greatest hits disc) doesn't disappoint, featuring the simple beats and intelligent rhymes that fueled the Tribe�s success for over a decade. If you're not that familiar with the Tribe, you gotta get, you got-got ta get it!