Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

A Tribe Called Quest
The Low End Theory

Released 1991 on Jive
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 07/08/2000ce

Hip Hop (a.k.a. Rap Music) is probably one of the most
misunderstood musical genres ever created. I know of no other genre that gets words like “negative, sexist, and uncreative” hurled at it more before, during and since its creation. However when people ask me “why do I listen to Hip Hop?” all I can I do is tell them “just because Radio Programmers play the more
negative aspects of Hip Hop doesn’t mean it’s all the same” and point them in the direction of CD’s like A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory.

Here we have a CD of brilliant, intricate, rhyming and sampling.
M.C.’s Q-Tip and Phife Dawg and D.J. Ali Shaheed Muhammad paint
a positive yet mature and complex picture of their lives that while trying to celebrate never avoid the negative aspects of them as well (hey you gotta take the good with the bad in life anyway.) Even better they have great taste in samples. They sample The Last Poets on the first song “Excursions” and things
just get better from there. They even sample Westbound-era
Funkadelic on “Everything Is Fair.” They also rhyme over live
instruments like Jazz legend Ron Carter’s funky upright bass on
“Verses From The Abstract.” Believe me, once you start listening to this CD you’ll be scratching your head looking for the LP’s they sampled from for days if not weeks (I know I sure did.)

Needless to say if you’ve EVER had misconceptions about Hip Hop
(and Rap Music) you need to check The Low End Theory. Quest even
take on sexism in intriguing ways (Phife details some of the women in his life on “Butter” but in the end gets played himself. And then there’s “The Infamous Date Rape” which tries to explain this situation but in a more “humane” manner you sure wouldn’t get from cartoonish “gangsta” and “thug” rappers. Again, Quest never avoids the negative aspects of life.) If you dig this disc then you should definitely check their other praiseworthy work (in chronological order):People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, Midnight Marauders, Beats-Rhymes & Life, and The Love Movement. That Quest take on life in such a varied, funky and articulate manner should alone be worth picking up.

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