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Beats, Rhymes & Life

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After three albums in as many years, A Tribe Called Quest took almost the same length of time to allow their fourth to come to the boil. And it’s a moody, uneasy album simmering with rap beef fall-out and self-aggrandising. “Phony Rappers” wastes no time in calling out cheque-chasing MCs, “Keeping It Moving” haughtily obliterates fledgling West and East coast tensions, while “Crew” is a haunting, gunfire-punctuated cautionary tale of betrayal within a friendship group. However, the group’s ear for disarming jazz-funk hooks and faultless tag-team flow means the darkness remains irresistible.


Formed: 1988 in Queens, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Without question the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest jump-started and perfected the hip-hop alternative to hardcore and gangsta rap. In essence, they abandoned the macho posturing rap music had been constructed upon, and focused instead on abstract philosophy and message tracks. The "sucka MC" theme had never been completely ignored in hip-hop, but Tribe confronted numerous black issues -- date rape, use of the word nigger, the trials and tribulations of...
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Beats, Rhymes & Life, A Tribe Called Quest
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