He was able to capture that moment in time. This is a great segue. This album reflected the great era that hip-hop was in during that time. Why was it important for the group to discuss these issues on your debut? For us, the music had to bang, so people could feel it, but we had to put something on top of it to make it relevant to who we were as a group. At that time, there was so much change happening and excitement happening in hip-hop specifically. The environment demanded that you push yourself to the limits. I think that was the best part.
If you take the words from our album, the music and movement was just instinctive. Some of it was ancestral and some of it we had no freaking idea or clue what we were doing, but we knew we were doing it. Jarobi: At that time, in the late s, police brutality, Afrocentrism, and sexually transmitted diseases were all hot-button issues that we were dealing with in society. The most important thing in our music was the truth and reality of it. As far as the subject matter, it was just a matter of being ourselves. Q-Tip wrote the lyrics, and they created music that we felt during that moment in time.
Depending on how the beat sounded, it pushed us a certain way. Q-Tip: It was a reflection of the times.
I think the reason why the subject matter is still relevant is because people like to talk about change, but humans have been dealing with the same things for thousands of years. When you look at the situation in our society, I think many people could relate to our lyrics. When you were writing the lyrics for the fourteen songs on this album, what was your creative approach to finding the words that complemented the music? Q-Tip: I went with what I felt in my soul.
I really wanted us to have fun and be the people we were back then. Those were some of the prerequisites that we had. That was the stuff that helped to create some of my favorite records like Slick Rick. He was one of my major inspirations. The shit he would say lyrically and his content resonated with me. I specifically remember being with my homeboy, Tony T. This dude is crazy witty. Go ask my mother. For me, he was the one in hip-hop that made it okay for an MC to let his imagination run wild. Ali: It was something that Tip was toying around with.
He was messing around with different words and putting stuff together. He wanted to make the title something people would remember. Thinking about the words in the title, they really defined the mission and our thoughts at that time. We really wanted people to believe in our music and to open themselves up to it.
We wanted to unite masses of people together. This is why the people that are painted on the album cover are different people painted with different colors. It was representative of humanity and mankind and people coming together over the love of our music. The title was fitting. Jarobi: Everyone has their journey. Instinctively, for us, our journey was to make good music. This album was a reflection of our journey in music. Phife: Q-Tip calls himself the Abstract for a reason. He likes to make people think.
When he first came to me to tell me the title, I thought he was crazy, but I was cool with it. I thought the group name was too long. Q-Tip: It kind of just happened. Some artists will write down different titles for their albums and have their different processes. With me, I just kept working and working and working, and if things popped up, they popped up and I used the idea. How important was legendary engineer Bob Power to this project and can you describe the collaboration process between everyone inside of the studio?
Ali: Working with Bob was really great. One of the first engineers we worked with was Shane Faber. Shane recorded a couple of our early songs. I think, Shane being a producer, was putting too much of his input from being a producer versus just being an engineer into our sessions and working environment. One day, we had a session with Bob and we loved his energy. We kept requesting him as an engineer. He was trying to figure out our sound as an engineer and learning what we were trying to do. It became a great partnership. There were things that we would explain, and with him being a musician, in addition to being an engineer, he understood the musicology aspect of the recording process.
It helped us. The same thing happened when we wanted the kick drum to be thicker. There were different tricks and methods he brought to the table as well as understanding the musicality of it all. Also, one of the other things I loved about Bob was that he was really focused.
He explained things to us that he was doing, so there were some valuable lessons he was giving to us. He was a born teacher. He recorded and mixed our records. His style of professionalism was great as well. Be quiet. All of us just clicked. He was important to our sound and understanding that we wanted stuff to be harder, the snares to snap, and more bass.
He was vital to our unit. Jarobi: Bob Power, sonically, was a fucking genius. The beauty of A Tribe Called Quest was that we had an idea of how we wanted our music to sound. He took our sound to another level. He was such a brilliant guy.
He was invaluable to us. Phife Dawg: We had the privilege of working with Bob Power on this album. He is one of the greatest engineers to ever do it. It was all about what we were trying to do sonically. He was the fifth member of A Tribe Called Quest. He knew what we wanted before we even told him.
He very rarely made a mistake as far as the sound. It was the easiest part of working on this album. Q-Tip: Working with Bob was amazing. He used to do jingles in the backroom of the studio. When we used to go into the studio, there were records on the wall that were recorded there. We were working with Shane Faber. He was very professional.
All clear. Stand by. That sounds good. Hold on. We were all eighteen at that time. He was efficient. But everybody was laughing, and I was watching. A couple weeks went by, and I started putting two and two together. We were trying to get somebody to do our session. After remembering that he was guy who did the jingles, we decided that we had to have him do our sessions. He was so musical. He became the fifth member of our group. Bob, how did your musical background prepare you to be able to work with a brand-new, young, and talented hip-hop group?
Bob Power: I have a couple of degrees in music; a Bachelors and Masters in music. So I had a pretty broad view on different ways to put music together, so that really helped me. The most important thing with hip-hop and working with A Tribe Called Quest was having an open mind on how technology could be used.
My diverse musical background allowed me to understand, get behind, and internalize all the wonderful musical things that were happening at that time. Given the technological hurdles, my fascination with technology helped me to stick with it and figure out solutions to make things work.
There is a real amalgamation to the music that was chosen to be sampled from for the songs on this album. Talk to me about the methodology in choosing these samples that were implemented into your overall sound? Ali: Both Q-Tip and I were involved in the sampling process for this album. I was a record collector, but not in terms of jazz music. Q-Tip was heavy into jazz music. He and Afrika from the Jungle Brothers used to leave school to go to the Village and buy records. The Village was sort of a backdrop for us, because we all went to high school in Manhattan.
At some point, I started joining them when I could between going to school and work. It was a matter of finding records while we were digging. It may have been a feeling in the music we got when we heard a chord progression change together. Pull it back.
Busta Rhymes Featured Artist. Jarobi: At that time, in the late s, police brutality, Afrocentrism, and sexually transmitted diseases were all hot-button issues that we were dealing with in society. We recorded some records that were getting airplay in the tristate area. Tribe also had the uncanny ability to feature other artists who I was also starting to discover. Q-Tip wrote the lyrics, and they created music that we felt during that moment in time.
What we wanted to do with our record was to fill it up with music we loved. My uncle went to school in Cortland [New York], so he listened to rock, and he was in rock bands. Tip introduced me to jazz. We met in the middle when it came to funk, the Beatles, and other elements.
Music is the universal language, so being open to other genres was a beautiful thing. So for us going into the studio, we just wanted to use the music we loved. We loved these songs that came from great, iconic, and creative people. Oh shit. What the hell is a Rotary Connection? Jarobi: All of us grew up in households where a lot of music was around.
Our parents had varied tastes. They had different types of music across the board. We wanted to honor the kind of musicality that we heard from artists we liked. Run-DMC were in our neighborhood, and they were the dopest shit in the world. We really wanted to have great musicality in our sound. Q-Tip: Well, we definitely wanted to set a certain tone for the album. We wanted the jams to have a certain edge to them.
We wanted to have a vibe and energy that matched with the things we were saying in the songs. A real uniqueness that gave us our own identity. Our approach was, it was our first album and what did we want people take away from it. For me, it was about what sounded dope. Everybody was there for the same mission. The vibe was always great. It was always fluid, creative, and full of questions.
Nobody said no to each other. We always kept pushing. When we went crate digging, we were looking for whatever records were dope. We spent a great deal of time in the studio messing around with different versions and tempos. We were really trying to get the best sounds. We made more mistakes than advances.
I loved it. I was and still am a studio rat. Ali: When we brought music samples in, Bob made sure things were tuned a certain way. I think the maximum time on an SP was eight seconds and the Akai S had limitations on time. We found ourselves taking a record and speeding it up and putting it on a 45—like a regular 33 LP—and speeding it up to make sure it could get into the sampler, but then we had to pitch it down with these little different things and tricks, and Bob understood the process.
Bob Power: Q-Tip and Ali did some sampling while we were in the studio together and some before they came to the studio. Sometimes, they would bring in records and we would sample little bits of them, then record them back on the tape. Getting music on two-inch tape was very labor intensive.
We had to use a lot of little tricks to figure out how to trick the technology into doing what we needed it to do. For example, if you had a sample or a combination of samples where the musical phrase was longer than a second or whatever the technology in the sampler was, you had to sample, re-sequence, then record onto tape small phrases at a time. So it was very labor intensive. Take me into the studio atmosphere when you all were recording this album. What time did you arrive to begin working and how long did it take while the group was recording the music and vocals?
Ali: We went to work in the studio. We knew that we were on the clock, and money was being spent. Also, we had a great support system there with the Native Tongues. At any given point, anybody would walk into the room and give you a thumbs up or come in and play something they had been working on. We need to come back with something. Tip questioned things a lot when we were in the studio. And he got it right. At least, that was our intention—to make music the most important thing for our group. There was nothing formulaic to our music-making in the studio. We went in there and just vibed out.
Everyone pushed each other to be at our best. We had a great sense of camaraderie. We were around some really dope people. All of us were different people that had similar ideas. Everybody just wanted to be good. Q-Tip was definitely the leader of the group. He was the creative rhinoceros. It was all freeform and fostered the creativity that we all had back then.
We were young-ass kids back then. We were seventeen and eighteen years old. Phife: We had many all-night sessions. This is the reason why we called ourselves the Midnight Marauders. We were saying that before we decided to use it as the title for our third album. We called ourselves that because everything we did was at night, whether it was all-night studio sessions or lock out sessions, going to the club, going out to eat, or getting up with a shorty.
There were many times where we recorded into the early hours of the morning. If it took us an hour or two on a song, we moved on to working on the next one. Sometimes, we could do it all in one take, and on other songs it would take multiple takes.
We cared about our product, and we tried to honor our craft as much as possible. Q-Tip: It was a dope scene in the studio. It was an otherworldly place. When you stepped in the studio, there were big speakers, a board, and all this big equipment.
It was an exciting time. I was eighteen years old. I was a kid in a candy store. Those tools in the studio became extensions of my imagination and thoughts. Those days were amazing, because we just focused on the music. The rest of the Native Tongues were there with us, and we made each other better. We were a family. Bob Power: There was a real sense of brotherhood between the Native Tongues collective.
It was a big friendly community. I was almost always in the control room while they were in the live room or booth. Occasionally, we were all in the same room. We all got along well in the studio. They were great people back then. They were excited, and I was too. I was twenty years older than them, but we had the same work ethic. They were just being themselves—artists trying to make a record that was fun and fun to make. All of us loved music, so everything just fell into place.
When you listen to the record, you can hear the joy in the recording. We spent a lot of long nights in the studio. Can you explain the difference between the recording processes at Calliope Studios versus Battery Studios? Ali: At Calliope, the floor would creak in certain places, especially in the vocal booth.
We could hear the conversations going on in the control room. Q-Tip met DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad while at high school and, after being named by the Jungle Brothers who attended the same school , the trio began performing. No matter how solid their debut was, second album The Low End Theory outdid all expectations and has held up as perhaps the best hip-hop LP of all time.
The Low End Theory had included several tracks with props to hip-hop friends, and A Tribe Called Quest cemented their support of the rap community with 's Midnight Marauders. The album cover and booklet insert included the faces of more than 50 rappers -- including obvious choices such as De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers -- as well as mild surprises like the Beastie Boys, Ice-T, and Heavy D.
Though impossible to trump Low End's brilliance, the LP offered several classics including Tribe's most infectious single to date, "Award Tour" and a harder sound than the first two albums. During the summer of , A Tribe Called Quest toured as the obligatory rap act on the Lollapalooza Festival lineup, and spent a quiet , marked only by several production jobs for Q-Tip. The album was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Rap Album category and reached platinum status.
Before they released their next album, 's The Love Movement, the group announced it would be their final album and that they were splitting up. Each member pursued solo careers to varying degrees of success, but the call of the band proved strong enough that they reunited many times over the years. They headlined the Rock the Bells concert in , toured heavily in , featured on the Rock the Bells tours of and , and played a series of shows in , including some with Kanye West in N.
Though at the time Q-Tip stated that this was the last time the group would play together, they reunited again in November of to play The Tonight Show in conjunction with the 25th anniversary reissue of People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Sadly, Tribe co-founder Phife -- suffering from diabetes for many years and the recipient of a liver transplant -- died in March of at the age of Later that year, Q-Tip announced that the group had finished a new album.
The night of their Tonight Show appearance, the original four members of the group had decided to put aside their differences and start recording again. Though Phife passed before the album was finished, Q-Tip was able to power through and complete it.
We Got It from Here Thank You 4 Your Service was released in late , topping the American charts and earning the group attention from a new generation of fans. Apple Music Preview. Sign Out. Sign In. Try It Now. Top Songs See All. Electric Relaxation. Midnight Marauders We the People We got it from Here Thank You 4 Your service Can I Kick It?