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The Low End Theory

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A Tribe Called Quest’s second album honours the jazz aesthetic and pushes it into new frontiers. On “Verses from the Abstract”, Q-Tip freestyles as Ron Carter plucks a loping yet sturdy bass rhythm. “Check the Rhime” evokes a bebop sound, while “Jazz (We’ve Got)” cribs a Grant Green guitar melody. Q-Tip’s and Phife’s voices are remarkably different—the former sounds casual and thoughtful, the latter bracingly direct—yet they blend harmoniously. It all ends with "Scenario", a boisterous soundclash between Tribe and Leaders of the New School.

Biography

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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