Thesis: Tribe Called Quest

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Tribe Called Quest

Biographer John Bush claims A Tribe Called Quest as "without question the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s." The group "jump-started and perfected the hip-hop alternative to hardcore and gangsta rap," providing sonic alternatives for discerning ears (Bush). A Tribe Called Quest fused socially conscious hip-hop with jazz musical elements to create fresh sounds. Unsurprisingly, the members of A Tribe Called Quest were veterans of the hip-hop scene in New York including Q-Tip from De La Soul. Because of their willingness to keep hip-hop grounded in its political roots and their commitment to innovative sounds, A Tribe Called Quest became a benchmark of artistic integrity.

The music of A Tribe Called Quest is decidedly hip-hop, but the group's sound differs significantly from most commercially successful rap music. Most notably, A Tribe Called Quest incorporates jazz elements such as horn and stand-up bass into hip-hop. A Tribe Called Quest can be classified alongside other premier jazzy hip-hop groups like predecessors De La Soul and Digable Planets. Each song by A Tribe Called Quest has a unique sound, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact sub-genre of the group. Some tracks incorporate elements from world music such as the sensual sounds of Indian instruments on "Bonita Applebum." Other A Tribe Called Quest songs incorporate sonic textures like the white noise crunchiness on "Oh My God" or electro accents like the ones on "Electric Relaxation." Lyrics also vary from sexuality to the politics of race. A Tribe Called Quest's music is smooth and jazzy with a hip-hop backbone.

Their willingness to experiment with fresh sounds did not preclude A Tribe Called Quest from enjoying commercial success. Although the group lambastes the mainstream recording industry on several of its tracks, A Tribe Called Quest understood how to attract large numbers of fans to live performances and record purchases. Rolling Stone magazine outlines the trajectory of A Tribe Called Quest's commercial career, with several of the band's songs and albums selling in the top 100.

Although described as "minor hits" from a commercial point-of-view, the collection of A Tribe Called Quest albums are considered classics of the genre ("A Tribe Called Quest"). Their 1990 debut album was at number 91 in record sales, and is widely believed to be among "the first rap work to fuse jazz samples with hip-hop structures," ("A Tribe Called Quest"). Rolling Stone also notes that A Tribe Called Quest's second album release in 1991 made it as high as 45 in sales. The album, The Low End Theory, "had a harder edge and extended the group's jazz leanings, featuring jazz great Ron Carter on upright bass," ("A Tribe Called Quest"). Bush claims Low End Theory "has held up as perhaps the best hip-hop LP of all time."

A Tribe Called Quest is revered by hip-hop pioneers, and has retained overwhelming peer support. The group "cemented their support of the rap community" especially after the release of Midnight Marauders in 1993, with an album jacket that featured more than 50 other rap musicians (Bush).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Tribe Called Quest.  (2009, December 7).  Retrieved July 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tribe-called-quest/241822

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"Tribe Called Quest."  7 December 2009.  Web.  21 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tribe-called-quest/241822>.

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"Tribe Called Quest."  Essaytown.com.  December 7, 2009.  Accessed July 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tribe-called-quest/241822.