“Hot Sex” by A Tribe Called Quest (1992)

“Hot Sex” isn’t one of the more thoughtfully constructed Tribe songs. The track didn’t even make it to an official Tribe album-it appeared on the soundtrack to the 1992 Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry flick Boomerang (without even appearing in the movie! I wonder what that was about!) The song’s somewhat tossed-off nature, though, is what I… Read More “Hot Sex” by A Tribe Called Quest (1992)

“Get It Together” by The Beastie Boys feat. Q-Tip (1994)

I’m pretty sure Q-Tip was the first featured rapper on a Beastie Boys track, and that’s gotta count for something. Even though I want to knock “Get It Together” down half a point for Tip’s repeated use of the word “nigga” on a track where the main artists are three white dudes, the song is… Read More “Get It Together” by The Beastie Boys feat. Q-Tip (1994)

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

“Check The Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

1991’s “Check The Rhime” didn’t introduce a new A Tribe Called Quest so much as it introduced a refined A Tribe Called Quest that distinctly separated itself as a separate entity from the rest of the Native Tongues collective. The song’s sensibility–Tip and Phife’s approximation of an old-school routine, the neck-cracking boom-bap, the jazzy sensibility… Read More “Check The Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

The greatest call and response in hip-hop history. If someone asks you if they can kick it, and you say “no, you can’t”, then you’re an asshole. “Can I Kick It” was Tribe’s third single, and was the first to really stamp coolness on Q-Tip’s flow. “El Segundo” and “Bonita Applebum” were a nerdy kind of cool, but “Can… Read More “Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

“Buggin’ Out” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Microphone check, 1-2. What is this?/The five foot assassin with the roughneck business/I I float like gravity, never had a cavity/Got more rhymes than the Winans got family” Those words boomed out of a PA system in Seattle on a mild Saturday in April 2016. I was attending PopCon, an annual gathering of music journalists… Read More “Buggin’ Out” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

“Buddy (Native Tongues Decision)” by De La Soul (feat. The Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, Queen Latifah & Prince Paul) (1989)

De La Soul’s “Buddy” arrived mere months before A Tribe Called Quest changed the hip-hop love song paradigm with “Bonita Applebum”. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Q-Tip and co. were inspired to make “Bonita” because of “Buddy”. After all, Tip and Phife Dawg (marking his first appearance on record) are both featured… Read More “Buddy (Native Tongues Decision)” by De La Soul (feat. The Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Monie Love, Queen Latifah & Prince Paul) (1989)

“Bonita Applebum” by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

There were hip-hop love songs before “Bonita Applebum”, and then there was “Bonita Applebum”. In my opinion, it was the jam that began to set ATCQ apart from the other Native Tongue groups. The Jungle Brothers could’ve maybe done a song like “Bonita”, but they didn’t have Q-Tip’s voice or production. De La’s love songs… Read More “Bonita Applebum” by A Tribe Called Quest (1990)

“Award Tour” by A Tribe Called Quest (1993)

Man, I miss Phife Dawg. I mean, Tip’s first verse is cool, but it kind of meanders. Phife references Dynomutt, his first recorded appearance (on “Buddy” by De La Soul), the TV show “St. Elsewhere”, the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees, DC-20s, Superman, Kryptonite and Gregory Peck (not that one)’s reggae hit “Oversize Mampie”. Even though “Award Tour”… Read More “Award Tour” by A Tribe Called Quest (1993)