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The Low End Theory

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Editors’ Notes

In the wake of the release of A Tribe Called Quest's first album, 1990's stellar People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, critics who had previously ignored hip-hop sat up and took notice of Q-Tip's sophisticated and unorthodox productions, and Phife Dog's party rocking but winningly self-deprecating rhymes. But the critics often overlooked Tribe's far-reaching roots in the hip-hop underground and their larger place in the history of black music in general. The Low End Theory was in many ways a conscious attempt to redress these critical oversights; it also happens to be one of the finest hip-hop albums ever recorded. From the sinuous Art Blakey samples and myth-making rhymes of "Excursions" to the joyous free for all of the epic posse cut "Scenario" The Low End Theory is a stone masterpiece that establishes Tribe's place in hip-hop's history. They draw on everything from the crowd-hyping improvisations of their early park jams, to the complex sciences of Golden Age rhyming styles. Simply put, The Low End Theory is essential for anyone seeking to understand hip-hop.

Customer Reviews

The BEST hip-hop album EVER--this helped change the game for the better...

This album should be in a museum. Music just can't get any better than what Tip, Phife, & Ali Shaheed crafted in 1991. The jazzy samples paved the way for Pete Rock and the other production greats to follow-up and help move hip-hop in a different musical and artistic direction. Q-Tip and Phife Dawg's lyrics penetrate right through to your soul. They were playful, yet political and poignant. I was 15 years old when "The Low End Theory" dropped and it still stays in heavy rotation. I can literally recite every single cut word-for-word. The entire Native Tongue crew redefined lyricism and what hip-hop's definition was at the time. "Scenario" was more than an ill party jam--it was the original, and best to this date--posse cut with Leaders of the New School including a young Busta Rhymes. I can't really identify any single song to review--you just need to peep the whole album. If you care about this genre along with true-school hip-hop culture and the essence of the art form, you'll pass this on the young kids who weren't exposed to the genius of the early 90's golden era of rap. Let them all know that the Tribe are your favorite rapper's favorite rappers. We'll never see an album this complete again. When I give my son a history lesson about hip-hop and how it defined his daddy's life as a young black man, this will be exhibit A. Thanks for the gem Tribe--I'll appreciate this for eternity and I know I'm not alone. Check out my other reviews for more of the same...

Classic Tribe

I have listened to this album probably 100+ times (i put it on repeat when i snowboard, plus i listen to it all the time) and it never gets old. this is one of my 10 favorite albums, i can listen to it all day. not really any singles but i definately have my favorite tracks, except that my favorite tracks change every few months. all the songs are different, but still have that same tribe vibe. cant recommend this album enough to old school hip hop fans

true hip hop

It's shameful that all this thug music is called hip hop now. A Tribe Called Quest is what hip hop is all about...this is real stuff. They truly don't make them like this anymore. I have just been listening to all this music on i-tunes and remembering my youth, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Tribe, etc.


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 n****r, the trials and tribulations...
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