They Reminisce Over You Podcast

A Tribe Called Quest cover art for episode 64 of the They Reminisce Over You Podcast

Mar 8, 2024

Episode 64 - A Tribe Called Quest: Electric Relaxation

Episode Summary

On this episode, we're having a conversation about one of our favorite groups, one of the greatest hip hop groups of all time, A Tribe Called Quest. Join us as we discuss their body of work and their legacy. Head over to our website, to check out footnotes, a playlist and a transcript for this episode. While you're here, make sure to vote for A Tribe Called Quest for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!


Miguel: Welcome back to They Reminisce Over You.

Christina: And I'm Christina. And today we're talking about the iconic group, A Tribe Called Quest. “Can I kick it?”

Miguel: “Yes you can.”

Christina: This group consists of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi. And in all the bios you see will say they come from Queens, but Ali Shaheed has said he's actually from Brooklyn. So I'll throw that in for him.

And they came into the scene in 1985, but they became known because of their unique and innovative approach to hip hop music, which was blending jazz samples and more socially conscious lyrics. And in the research, they are often called alternative hip hop or jazz rap. I've never called them that, but that's how I see them categorized.

Miguel: It's usually like magazines or whatnot.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: Want to try and put a label on it.

Christina: I was like, it's rap. 90s rap. That's my label.

Miguel: Yeah. For those of you who don't know, the story of A Tribe Called Quest begins with Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. They were friends from pretty much birth. They met at the age of two. Their families went to the same church, and they were friends from that point on, basically. When they were about nine years old, Phife told Q-Tip, I think we should start rapping. Now, mind you, these are two nine-year-olds who are having this conversation. Keep that in mind for later.

Around age 12 is when Jarobi moved to the neighborhood, and they hit it off, and they were friends ever since. Q-Tip ended up going to a different high school than them, and this is where he met Mike Gee and Afrika Baby Bam of Jungle Brothers. And he also met Ali Shaheed Muhammad at this school. As time went on, Jungle Brothers are working on their first album. Of course, this is the early days of hip-hop, so anybody and everybody was trying to get on. Mike Gee's uncle was Kool DJ Red Alert, which helped.

Christina: Yes.

Miguel: If you're going to be related to somebody who's in the industry, why not be Kool DJ Red Alert?

Christina: Yeah, I saw in an interview, Q-Tip was talking about that. He said, you know, they've been rapping for a while and stuff, and all of a sudden he just drops like, oh yeah, I'll give the tape to my uncle. And they're like, who's your uncle? He's like, DJ Red Alert.

Miguel: Right. Like, how do you hold this information back?

Christina: Why are you just telling us this now?

Miguel: So as they're working on this album, Q-Tip worked his way onto the album. He's on two songs, “Black is Black” and “The Promo.” I was familiar with the Jungle Brothers. I wasn't a big Jungle Brothers fan. They had a couple songs that I liked, but I did remember hearing this album because my cousin had it. So I kind of remembered Q-Tip from that album because one, he mentioned something about being “in a tribe called Quest" on the album. And I thought that was weird. Like okay.

I found out that the name of the group originally was just Quest. So on the “Black is Black,” Q-Tip said he was from "a tribe called Quest. "That's because Afrika told him to change the line. He said he was from "a group called Quest." And he's like, well, we're the Jungle Brothers and we're doing this Afrocentricity stuff. You should say you're from "a tribe called Quest." And people heard that and just assumed that the group name was A Tribe Called Quest. And it just kind of stuck.

Christina: You got to say the whole thing.

Miguel: You have to say the whole thing now. But they were--him and Ali were originally known as Quest.

Christina: The more you know.

Miguel: The more you know.

Christina: Cue the star in the ring.

Miguel: Yes. And he was also on De La Soul's “Buddy.”

Christina: Yes.

Miguel: The “Buddy” Remix. This is the one that I was really familiar with. And I'm like, who is this guy again? Why is he all over the place? And he was also on “Me, Myself, and I” when he just pops in and goes, black is black. Kind of like the Frosty dude from Mortal Kombat. In the bottom of the screen, he just popped in, “black is black.”[1]

So between the reference on that song, hearing him on the Jungle Brothers and then the Buddy Remix with him and Phife both got a verse, but Phife was cut out of the video[2] for some reason. It's like, who are these guys? Why are they in all the De La Soul videos or all the Jungle Brothers videos? So I was really curious about them.

And then I heard “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo.” It's like, hey, it's those dudes, which was the first single. Well, actually it was their second single, but it was the first one that I heard from their first album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

Christina: That's quite a mouthful.

Miguel: It is. It's a very random title as well. But hey, it was the 80s.

Christina: We're cerebral.

Miguel: Exactly. Afro-centricity. We're smart.

Christina: Words.

Miguel: Yeah. We got bars. So let's go with this abstract title.

Christina: Which is also Q-Tip's name.

Miguel: Basically, it was a Q-Tip and Ali album because Phife is only on four songs. And Jarobi is basically on all of the interludes between some of the songs. So it's not like he contributed much vocally in terms of raps. So it's really a Q-Tip and Ali album. I was reading an interview with Phife and he said that he looks at that as their baby, as he wasn't really involved in it as much because they basically had to beg him to come to the studio and whatnot. But he said he wasn't even signed to the group at the time. He was officially signed, quote unquote, on the second album. But for the first album, he was just kind of there.

Christina: Okay, so did he get paid then?

Miguel: I would assume he got paid, but he probably didn't get the same amount as Q-Tip and Ali since they were doing the bulk of the work at the time and he would just pop in every now and then, drop a verse and then leave.

Christina: Yeah, I know the main singles that “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” “Bonita Applebum,” “Can I Kick It?” I'm not sure if I knew them yet though, because I feel like for me, my introduction to them was “Scenario” and I think I might have just kind of worked my way back. I'm really fuzzy about how I first heard them. I know those songs, but not sure what came first for me.

Miguel: Yeah, it was definitely this for me. And like I said, I had noticed them on other people's stuff. It was like, who are these guys? Yeah, and I liked “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo.” It wasn't the greatest song in the world, but it's like, all right, they're kind of funny.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: They made me chuckle. But when I heard “Can I Kick It?” and “Bonita Applebum,” that's when I was, I was sold on it.

Christina: Right.

Miguel: Not so much with “Can I Kick It?” but “Bonita Applebum,” that one was like, all right, y'all got something. You got something.

Christina: Well, I was seeing a lot of people just talking about how “Bonita Applebum” was a nice way of talking about the big booty girls.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: And well, it wasn't this song, actually, but you and I were listening to just Tribe in general and Phife was saying that line about having “a crush on Dawn from En Vogue.” And he's like, "it's not like honey dip would want to get with me." And I was saying to you, I was like, wait a minute. Do the kids these days have like cute little nicknames for girls that they like, like Bonita Applebum, honey dip, tenderonis? Like, I'm not going to engage in revisionist history and say that everything was so wonderful for women. There was definitely a lot of misogyny, but we had little cute songs and nicknames for the ladies.

Miguel: I'm gonna say no. I can't say with 100% certainty because I'm not a 23 year old.

Christina: I need to know if by chance there are actually any young people listening to this. Like, do you guys have a Bonita Applebum?

Miguel: Yeah. Or do you just call each other? Hey, that's my bitch over there.

Christina: Which, what's the equivalent of honey dip?

Miguel: Is anybody getting called a tenderoni these days?

Christina: I just, I'm curious.

Miguel: So I can't say that I'm familiar with the lingo that kids are using these days, but I'm going to say no. I haven't heard any pleasant terms used for women recently.

Christina: Because, like, on the other hand, there's some other songs where they're calling girls hookers. So it's not always...

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: But I mean, you know, there's some balance.

Miguel: A little bit. As I said, this was essentially an Ali and Tip album with a little sprinkling of Phife and Jarobi in there.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: But where they really became a group, to me, is on their second album, The Low End Theory, which was the second of their first two albums becoming five mic'ers in The Source.

Christina: Which is crazy.

Miguel: It is. Some people don't get any and they did it on their first two albums. And that's when the five mics meant something too.

Christina: Yes. That was a big deal.

Miguel: Yeah. Phife really stepped up on this album. It still wasn't a 50-50 balance, but he was on eight out of the 14 songs. So he started coming to the studio, obviously, and taking this seriously. And he showed that he deserved to be on these records along with Q-Tip. And like I said, it kind of gave him more of a balance, even though at this time is when Jarobi kind of steps away. Even though he was always around. But as we find out through their interviews and whatnot, he was always there. He was just never on the records.

Christina: He just liked to hang out, I guess.

Miguel: Yeah. Like Q-Tip said, he is the heart and soul of the group.

Christina: He's the director of vibes.

Miguel: Yes. He comes in and makes sure that everything is good.

Christina: Yeah, I think with this album, especially the back and forth, you know, "You on point, Phife? All the time, Tip." It kind of helps solidify that the group had this dynamic between the two of them that kind of made it.

Miguel: Yeah, because he was on the sidelines for the first album basically. But on this album, like I said, he really stepped up. And the first thing that I noticed was like the growth from what we heard him on previously to when “Check the Rhime” came out, it's like, oh, why y'all been holding this dude back? He can spit. But I didn't realize it was due to him not wanting to be in the studio. I thought he was just being held back.

Christina: No, he sounds like he was just being a kid because he was like 18 or something.

Miguel: Yeah. And that's basically what he said. He was like, I was in the streets. So yeah, that was one of my favorite albums is The Low End Theory to this day.

Christina: "To this day!"

Miguel: It's still one of my favorite albums.

Christina: Well, I think for me, I like Midnight Marauders better because The Low End Theory came out in ’91. So that's more of my just getting into it years. Whereas Midnight Marauders was ’93 when I was like, all right, I'm here now.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: So I think that one has a bigger hold on me.

Miguel: Yeah, that is peak Tribe right there, because to me, it is the same growth from the first album to Low End Theory. But it's a little more pretty and it's a little more polished. And again, there's even more Phife on this song. It's not quite 50-50. It's like 52-48. But he was closing the gap at this point in terms of getting face time on these records.

But yeah, Midnight Marauders, I think, is perfect. From the tour guide, the song sequencing, the balance of the two of them bouncing off of each other. And again, just the production that Q-Tip and a little bit of Ali Shaheed were putting together on those two albums. This one is just a little bit more polished.

Christina: Yeah. So I think basically having the two of them being pretty much having the same amount of face time, as you said, works because both of their voices and styles are also distinct. So you kind of have them. It gives it some variety, but then it also works well together.

Miguel: And Phife was just a little smart ass on a lot of these records. It really started on The Low End Theory, but he was in rare form on this album. Some of the greatest lines that he's ever come up with. “Height of Muggsy Bogues, complexion of a hockey puck.” “Same size as Little Vicious and shorter than Kris Kross,” stuff like that.

Christina: I guess it's like one of those things, especially for like, I don't know if he, I'm assuming he did some kind of battle rapping since that's what rappers do. But I think it's kind of like, you know, the thing that people are going to make fun of you for, you beat them to the punch.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: So it's like, I'm sure he's heard people making fun of him about being so short all the time. He's just like, no, I can do it better than what you can say about me.

Miguel: I'm the five foot assassin. Yeah, I will not be stopped. I watched a video and I'm not going to recommend that anybody watch this video because it's on Drink Champs.[3] They did an interview on Drink Champs and you know how Nore he is. He's just all over the place.

But Consequence mentioned that Mr. Cheeks and somebody was looking for Phife so they can battle him. But he wasn't there. But Busta Rhymes, Jarobi and Consequence were. And then randomly Run shows up and Consequence battled Run, which just is hilarious in itself. But we don't know how the story ends because Nore keeps cutting people off and they got diverted and ended up talking about something else. But the thought of a 15, 16 year old Consequence battling Run, just the image of that is funny to me and I wish I could have seen it.

Christina: Didn't have social media back then.

Miguel: At all. We did not.

Christina: So I guess this is kind of like the first, I guess, era or phase of their career, this three album run.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So what did you think about this? And I'm asking you because your perspective will be different from mine since you started listening to rap earlier. So how did you perceive them?

Miguel: Well, like I said, I was all in on the music just from hearing them. Well, hearing Q-tip on the Jungle Brothers stuff and then hearing the both of them on “Buddy.” It's like, OK, this is interesting. And then hearing the first album. It's like alright, they're cool. But by the time Low End Theory came around, I was all in and they were instantly my favorite group.

And this is with me growing up listening to NWA and Public Enemy and a bunch of other stuff. They shot to the top of the list with The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders just solidified that. I remember going to the store to purchase Midnight Marauders. I walked to VIP Records, which is now closed, to get Midnight Marauders and then listen to it, walking back home.

Christina: Yeah. Well, since you were listening to a lot of NWA and such, maybe you were just primed for something a little more fun, a little more lighthearted, should we say?

Miguel: I wouldn't say so because at this time there weren't a lot of rappers to choose from anyway. So I was listening to everything, NWA, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Heavy D and the Boyz, Beastie Boys. So it was kind of all over the place anyway. And wasn't a "I don't listen to that because it's East Coast" and I don't listen to this because it's whatever. If it was good, I listen to it wherever it was from.

Christina: Okay. So actually, your answer isn't really that different from mine. I think I was just thinking of it in terms of how well, when I was reading about it, like what a lot of people were saying was like, oh, wow, how they were so different. And they brought on this new sound. But I think for me, because I was just discovering pretty much all of this at the same time that I had no preconceived notions of what rap was supposed to sound like. Like, in my mind, that was what it was supposed to sound like. Some people did this. Some people did that. Like, I was used to variety that it wasn't like, oh, wow, these guys are doing something different or they're doing something innovative because it was all new and different and innovative.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: And I, like you, we didn't listen to the exact same stuff, but I did also just kind of listen to everything as well.

Miguel: In terms of the music, it wasn't that much different than anything else that was out. It was sample heavy. There was a certain style of rap that was happening at the time. So a lot of people kind of had similar flows, but they were all different. But it was kind of similar pocket, similar styles. With them, it was mostly the clothes that was different because they were doing the Native Tongue thing. So it was a lot of dashikis and leather medallions and beads.

Christina: Afrocentric.

Miguel: Yeah. So they were heavy into that. So that was different.

Christina: Except for Phife. He was like, I am not wearing that.

Miguel: Like there's a picture from the first album where they're all wearing like the dashikis and the big hats. And Phife is just wearing like a black shirt.

Christina: I saw that in an interview, but he said that I don't know what pants he was wearing, but he said he was mad that they made him wear those pants.

Miguel: You can kind of see the pants in the photo. And it's a lot like what Q-Tip and Ali were wearing.

Christina: Prints and stuff?

Miguel: Yeah, but him and Jarobi are wearing black shirts with these pants. But even in the videos, like he was wearing Starter jackets and jerseys and hats and whatnot. So even in the early days, other than the “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” video, he was always in sports gear in all of their videos. Like, yeah, I'm not with this. Just give me a Braves jersey and I'm good.

Christina: And pretty much to the end, he was in sports gear.

Miguel: I respect it. If you can get away with wearing a jersey all the time, go for it. I'm all in.

Christina: So we got quite an introduction to them with this three album run. But as we know, there were some things brewing personally and professionally.

Miguel: It definitely was.

Christina: So we get sort of the second wave or era, which started with the ’96 album Beats, Rhymes and Life.

Miguel: Yeah, a lot of people don't like this album for whatever reason, but I'm not one of those people. I actually like Beats, Rhymes and Life.

Christina: I like it too. I saw a review talking about, so they start off with the song “Phony Rappers,” which me and you have been laughing about this song. Because I think it's hilarious. I think--I liked it opening like this. "Blah, blah, blah, blah. That's what he said." I don't know why that line makes me crack up every single time. "Let's battle." Yeah, I saw one reviewer say that it felt like they were trying too hard to prove themselves. I'm like, I mean, I guess that's your opinion, but I thought it was funny. I liked it.

Miguel: I didn't see it that way. Even though there was tension in the group, we as the public didn't know how bad it was. And just listening to the album, I really couldn't tell that there was tension amongst them. Because to me, it just sounded like they were continuing to rise. Like it was a change in production, but Midnight Marauders does not sound like The Low End Theory. Low End Theory doesn't sound like People's Instinctive. So I just figured this is the next phase of what they wanted to do.

Christina: I do feel like this album did kind of up the polished sound, a little more shiny. But not necessarily in a bad way, just in this is our fourth album. We've been doing this for a while.

Miguel: Yeah, and one of the biggest issues was there was so much Consequence on it. Because he was just kind of thrust upon us with very little explanation. Because he was on one of the remixes from Midnight Marauders. I don't remember which one off the top of my head, but that was his first appearance. And then Beats, Rhymes and Life comes out and he's on like half the album. It's like, who the hell is this guy?

And you start reading magazine interviews and seeing TV interviews. It's like, OK, this is Q-tip's cousin. But why is he being shoehorned into the group instead of just given like one, maybe two songs, especially because Phife had just come into his own. He's finally getting closer to 50-50.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: And now we got to pull back and split it three ways rather than two. I thought that was a bit odd, but Consequence didn't bother me. He didn't add to the album, but he didn't really take away from it either.

Christina: I don't remember listening to this album and being like, what happened?

Miguel: I didn't have a problem with it. So from them adding Consequence and then bringing Dilla in, or as he was known at the time, Jay Dee, people really didn't like that for some reason.And I was not one of them.I loved it.

Christina: I don't remember feeling any ways about it or really noticing any sharp shift.

Miguel: Yeah, because you would read about this production team that Q-Tip had put together, him, Ali and Jay Dee, aka J Dilla. And Dilla had just come off doing The Pharcyde album where he did the majority of that. I'm like, well, I like The Pharcyde album. Why wouldn't I like him joining forces with Ali and Q-Tip to do Tribe Called Quest stuff? But again, I didn't have a problem with it. I still love it to this day. We were listening to it in the car earlier. So I am pro Beats, Rhymes and Life in this household.

Christina: Yeah, same. I don't really have any beef with it. I mean, if I had to choose between that and Midnight Marauders, I would still choose Midnight Marauders, but not because there was anything wrong with Beats, Rhymes and Life. I just like that one better.

Miguel: Yeah. And Midnight Marauders is so good that it's going to be hard to top that.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Like following those two albums up. Anything is going to be a letdown. Like you can't really keep that up. That's almost impossible. But it's still worth listening to. And what's funny is because what Dilla ended up going on to do after the stuff with Q-Tip and Ali, it's a lot of revisionist history with this album and The Love Movement because I'm reading different reviews from like five years ago or 10 years ago, whenever these anniversaries were coming up and people are talking about how great it is and how much they loved it, I'm like, I remember y'all not liking this album and saying how bad it was. Now The Love Movement, I'll give you that one. That one's not great.

Christina: Yeah, that's where it dropped off for me. Aside from “Find A Way,” that song, I liked that chemistry between Q-Tip and Phife that we had gotten to know and love.I did find that the album just felt like it wasn't horrible, but it just felt like a lot of like filler kind of music, nothing really particularly memorable.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: But I also just find that around this time, because Love Movement came out in 1998. So I find that a lot of groups or solo artists that came out in the early 90s or even late 80s going into the early 90s, once they kind of hit ’98, because we're now moving into like another era, that I think a lot of albums in that year just didn't do that well.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: If they were from the earlier period.

Miguel: Yeah, because you have the shiny suit era basically.

Christina: And like either your shiny suit or like DMX.

Miguel: Yeah. So you got DMX, the shiny suits, Cash Money is starting to trickle in. So there's a lot of moving pieces.

Christina: It's changing again.

Miguel: Yeah. Whereas they're still, well, Tribe Called Quest is still doing the boom bap hip hop that we knew them for. And they really didn't like each other at this point.

Christina: That probably didn't help.

Miguel: So that didn't help.

Christina: Doesn't help when you don't want to be in the same room.

Miguel: So there's a couple songs I like on here, like Like It Like That is one of my favorite songs of theirs. Like you said, “Find a Way.” I like “Da Booty.”

Christina: I found it very strange that they put “Hot Sex” on this album, considering it was like on Boomerang.

Miguel: Yeah, that one.

Christina: From 1992. So as much as I like that song, it's very weird on this album.

Miguel: Yeah, that one was the “(We’ve Got) Jazz” remix was on here. The “Oh My God” remix. So these songs were old. Yeah, but they decided to put them on here. I believe in the original pressing, they weren't on here.

Christina: Okay.

Miguel: But on the re-releases since they were on there. But yeah, it's just very meh. And also around the same time, they lost a lot of music because Q-Tip's studio burned down.

Christina: Oh, yeah.

Miguel: So there was a lot of music that was for this album that was lost and they basically had to start from scratch.

Christina: Yeah.I guess it was like the perfect storm or the imperfect storm.You got the personal stuff. You got the fire, losing the music.You got the music itself just sort of changing. ’98, I think, was a good year for some people and not a good year for some other people.

Miguel: Right.Yeah.So this one, it's cool.It's not up to their regular standards, what we had grown to custom to.But it is what it is. And them saying that, hey, I know the album's not out yet, but we ain't together no more. Go buy the album next month.That didn't help either.

Christina: Yeah. By the time The Love Movement came out, we already knew that they were broken up.

Miguel: Yes. But at the same time, they kept getting back together and doing tours and festivals and whatnot, basically teasing us like they're going to get back together, right? They're going to get back together. And then nothing came of it. A couple of loosies here and there, but nothing really major came to fruition until 2015. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first album. So there was the big promo push for that. And their first performance on TV shows since 1998 was them performing on Jimmy Fallon. So this was their first performance since 1998. It was their last performance with all four members as well, because Phife passed away a few months later.

But after the performance, they were so amped up. They immediately went to the studio. Like they left the stage to the studio and started working on a new Tribe Called Quest album, which they were basically putting together in secret. And we really didn't know about it.

Christina: You know what? That was probably for the best. Because then they could just go back to creating and not having to worry about people's expectations.

Miguel: I completely forgot about this until I read it the other day. But after Phife passed, L.A. Reid was on Rap Radar podcast and he let it slip that they had an album coming out.

Christina: I don't remember that.

Miguel: I remember it, but I completely forgot about it until maybe a month after that Q-Tip tweeted, we got an album coming out. And basically broke down the story of them making the album. It was like, all right, go out and get it. This is the last one. Hope you like it. And when it came out, it was way better than expected.

Christina: Oh, yeah.

Miguel: For a group that had been gone for almost 20 years to come back and make that album was, it was something.

Christina: Definitely.

Miguel: I was not expecting that at all. It's not like they made it with old Phife tracks. He was there recording along with them.

Christina: Yes.

Miguel: He didn't make it to the finish line. But as Q-tip said, he gave us the framework of what we needed to do. And they finished it with bringing back Consequence and a long time Tribe Called Quest affiliate Busta Rhymes, who was finally a member of A Tribe Called Quest. He said he had waited 25 years to be a Tribe Called Quest member. So he got his wish on this album. He's on a couple songs as well. And like I said, it was just really well done.

Christina: Yeah, this one, I guess because at this point they had worked out at least the majority of their issues.That despite, you know, bringing Consequence back and having Busta Rhymes, this album felt more cohesive.It felt like they wanted to be together.And like it just sounded more, there was more togetherness.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: What is the word I'm looking for? Like the chemistry was back.

Miguel: And then you got Jarobi rapping again.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: And it's funny that he spent so many years not rapping. A couple years before this, he actually put out an album. Him and Dres did an album called EvitaN.

Christina: I haven't heard it, but...

Miguel: I had it when it first came out, because I believe this was around the same time that he had just gotten on Twitter. And he basically said, who should I be following? And I responded like, follow me. So anybody who responded to that tweet, he just followed. And I believe he still does.

But yeah, it ended up being pretty good. And I was like, wait a minute, Jarobi can rap. Because I'd only saw him doing like the hype man thing and finishing verses with Q-Tip and Phife. So I had never actually heard him rap. And from what Phife says that Jarobi actually had verses on The Low End Theory that they ended up taking off after he left the group. But he had verses that were recorded for it. So we could have gotten Jarobi back in ’91.

Christina: If he didn't leave.

Miguel: Yeah, but he decided he wanted to be, what did he say on the first album? The mystic man behind the scenes and just hanging out.

Christina: I think they could have left the verses though.

Miguel: I guess they figured it would have been too weird to have him all over the album.

Christina: And then when they would perform, like what are you supposed to do?

Miguel: But then he's showing up at shows and performing at the same time.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: It's a really weird dynamic, but it works for them. I don't understand it, but...

Christina: Well, I think that like this was a good way to kind of cap the legacy, especially since Phife passed away so soon. Well, I was going to say after, but it wasn't even after because during the process. So it's like we got one more.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: And they got to do one more. And I would imagine it's some, a bit of closure for them too.

Miguel: I would imagine so because like I said, Phife and Q-tip have been friends since they were like two. And Phife and Jarobi have been friends since they were like 10, 11, 12, something like that. And then as a collective, they've just been doing this since they were 15 years old. So yeah, I see this as being closure and going out on a high note instead of what if or with regrets.

Christina: Or like a weird forced album that wasn't good. It's like this was something they really wanted to do.

Miguel: Yeah, the fact that they can leave a performance and go to the studio immediately after tells you that they wanted to do it. So in your opinion, how do you think they affected the music that was out around this time? I'm talking like ’91 through ’98 and also some of the acts that came after them.

Christina: Well, like I was saying, for me, it was just all new. So I guess I didn't really understand how it might have affected what was going on at the time. But just looking at how acts that came after them talked about how they influenced them, that it just opened the doors for other people who were, you know, maybe liked that style better than other artists before them. And just having a space for like fun or as I've seen some of it being described as like the weird kids. I don't really find them weird, though. No, again, this is just all stuff that I'm reading that other people say.

So basically, they just kind of created a space for people like them. But like I said, for me, everything was just new. So it was just like, oh, here's another thing. And now they've sparked other artists that I can listen to as well. So I guess just creating opportunities, opening doors.

Miguel: And you can see like a direct line from De La Soul and Jungle Brothers and Tribe Called Quest and the whole Native Tongues thing to the Neptunes and Pharrell and Kanye and Digable Planets, Common, Pharcyde. So a lot of stuff that we grew up listening to, you can see the influences of A Tribe Called Quest and Native Tongues.

Christina: Yeah. Like I can see that now. But at the time, like I said, it was just another thing to listen to.

Miguel: Yeah, since I was a little bit older than you, I could see the influences a little more directly.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: Just through the Native Tongues and how some of that kind of spilled over into the Soulquarian stuff.

Christina: Yeah.

Miguel: So just seeing that, it's like, yeah, there's still some, what's the word, influence there. And then you take the Soulquarians and the individuals from that with like J Dilla and The Roots and Erykah Badu and D'Angelo and people who are influenced by them. You kind of see where it all stems from A Tribe Called Quest.

Christina: Yeah. I think the connection is sort of keeping the spirit of, like even though they used a lot of samples, but kind of keeping the spirit of that musicality, I guess, if that makes sense. Because actually I was watching another interview with, I think it was Ali [Shaheed] Muhammad, and they were just talking about how because production has changed, the music doesn't sound as rich or thick as it used to.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: So that's why I'm saying how they had this..being able to influence others to kind of keep making music and not just sort of synthesize beats.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: I think that's the beauty of sampling is like you may not be physically playing these instruments, but you're using these samples as instruments to create new sounds.

Miguel: So of their discography and the things that they've done, things that they've been on, what would you recommend that people listen to if they're not familiar with A Tribe Called Quest?

Christina: Well, even though my favorite album is Midnight Marauders, I think that the albums have actually aged very well.

Miguel: They have.

Christina: So if you're not familiar, I'd say just start from the beginning and then that way you can pick your own favorite.

Miguel: I'm okay with that.

Christina: Because even just listening to it for this, I just kind of had all the albums playing for like two days. And it's just, it's such an easy listen. You just put it on, you're working, you're doing laundry, or you can actually put on some headphones and like really listen to it. But like, despite the first album coming out in 1990, like it sounds like 90s music, but it doesn't sound like old music.

Miguel: Yeah.

Christina: So because there are some artists where you're like, you know, if you weren't there at the time, then maybe don't bother. But with this, I think it makes sense. Just start from the beginning.

Miguel: Yeah, that, that first album, like you said, it doesn't sound like an album that came out in 1990, but it still sounds old at the same time.

Christina: Yeah, like it's, it's definitely a 90s album.

Miguel: Yeah, it's not something you would listen to and just be like, ugh.

Christina: Yeah, it's not like, oh, like this is my parents' music. Ugh.

Miguel: Right. Because there are some albums from around that time that I liked then, and I've tried to listen to them recently, and it just doesn't work.

Christina: Yeah, it just it's hard to explain what the distinction is, but you can definitely be a person in 2024 and enjoy this without feeling like you're listening to some classic music.

Miguel: Right.

Christina: Like dentist office music, although at the same time, because it is a nice vibe, you can just leave it on as background music.

Miguel: Yeah, it's possible for you to hear this playing in an elevator or in the dentist's office, because that's where we are now.

Christina: Yeah, because we...

Miguel: This is easy listening radio.

Christina: We, as in our generation, are the dentists and whatnot now, so...

Miguel: Right. Exactly.

Christina: But yeah, I would just say start from the beginning.

Miguel: Alright, sounds good. For me, I would suggest that you would step outside of A Tribe Called Quest and just listen to a lot of the things that Q-Tip has been involved in production-wise. So from Nas to Mobb Deep, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, the list is crazy. So we'll link to his production discography so you can look at things there as well.

Christina: Yeah, I was starting to kind of look into that stuff, and I was like, no, this episode would be three, four hours long if we talked about all of their other projects.

Miguel: Yeah, like the stuff that they were doing as The Ummah and a few things that he did for other artists, we would be here for two days talking about it. So look into that.

Christina: Like I'm not even going to touch that.

Miguel: Exactly. But I will say that, we're going to link to it as well, there was a Red Bull Music Academy interview[4] that he did talking about his production process. So the way he layers these samples and has live musicians come in and then sample that. It's really interesting, his production process. So I was suggest people check that out and we'll link to it. So go to the website and check that out. You have anything else you would like to say about A Tribe Called Quest?

Christina: Not really. Go listen to it if you want a nice vibe. If you have never been called, you know, a honey dip before.

Miguel: Go get called a honey dip by Phife Dawg.

Christina: Just ignore him when he calls you a hooker though.

Miguel: Yes. Quick and turn that ass away like Chuckii Booker. Told you he was witty. He was a witty guy. He always made me smile. On that note, I think it's time for us to wrap this up. I don't even remember what we used to say at this point because it's been so long since we recorded an episode.

Christina: Welcome back and thanks for coming back.

Miguel: Yes.

Christina: If you made it all the way to the end.

Miguel: Yeah, if you made it all the way to this point, we thank you for listening to They Reminisce Over You. We do this every two weeks. We will have a week delay between this episode and our next one only because we're going to a concert and we're doing an episode about who we're going to see. So stay tuned for that. But for the most part, we try to do this every two weeks. If you want to come back and listen, you can check us out at troy dot, ah! It's been too long.


Miguel: Yes, that place. That's our website. You can listen to the playlist that we're going to put together for this episode. Some of our older playlists. We'll have transcripts and footnotes for the things that we talked about in this episode. So make sure you go and check that out. If you want to purchase some merch, you can go to That's our store. T-E-E T-H-A-N-G dot com.

Christina: Nuthin' But a Tee Thang.

Miguel: Nuthin' But a Tee Thang, baby. You can get yourself some shirts, hats, socks, mugs, all that stuff. We also have a newsletter called Liner Notes. So if you would like to sign up for that and get it in your inbox once a month, usually the first week of the month, we will send you that as well. Just go to and it will make that day brighter for you.

Christina: It will. It's true.

Miguel: Trust me.

Christina: It's true.

Miguel: If you don't like the newsletter, I will give your money back.

Christina: The free .99 you pay when you sign up for it.

Miguel: It's a money back guarantee with our newsletter. And that's all I have for this episode. Again, thank you for coming back and listening. And we'll be seeing you in a couple weeks.

Christina: Bye!

Miguel: Bye!