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Midnight Marauders

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On the New York trio’s memorable third album, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad merge cool jazz textures with noisy boom-bap for a thrilling combination. Their raps encapsulate hip-hop life in 1993, from Q-Tip wrestling with the legacy of the N-word on “Sucka N***a” to Phife airing personal problems on “8 Million Stories”. The two romance us over a sumptuous rhythm on “Electric Relaxation”, and, while piping trumpets and playful xylophone notes mark the celebratory “Award Tour”, lay claim to being one of the best rap groups ever.

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Formed: 1988 in Queens, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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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