“Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest (1993)

Hip-hop songs about sex and romance have become a bit more easy to take as the genre has matured (and its artists have matured along with it), but well into the ‘90s, hip-hop’s attempts to discuss love and its attendant relationships tended to go to one of two extremes. They were either extremely mushy (“I Need Love”) or extremely crass (side 2 of “Niggaz4life”). Leave it to A Tribe Called Quest to create a sex jam that’s…well, yes “Electric Relaxation” is sort of crass in spots, but it’s also filled with a warmth and humor that’s still missing from a lot of hip-hop, period.

Over a bass-heavy sample of Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew”, Phife and Q-Tip trade lines about their sexual technique, all in the name of impressing a special young lady. Tip is mostly his smooth self, but the Five Foot Assassin reels off some absolutely classic bars, including the immortal “let me hit it from the back girl, I won’t catch a hernia/bust off on your couch, now you got Seaman’s Furniture”. For those of you who didn’t live in the Tri-State area during the ‘90s, Seaman’s was a New York-based furniture chain that did a ton of television advertising.

A lot of the name-checking is pretty severely time-stamped (references to BET host Madeline Woods, SWV’s “Weak”, Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Above The Rim” and LL Cool J’s “Back Seat Of My Jeep” could’ve only come from a specific period in mid 1993).

“Relax yourself girl, please settle down”-that’s what Q-Tip is mumbling in the chorus. You’re welcome.

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Electric Feel” by MGMT (2008): Nothing terribly intelligent to say, here. “Electric Feel” is just a groovy-ass song. Although I wound up docking it half a point because I may like Frank Ocean’s repurposing of it (“Nature Feels”) more than I like the original song.

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