Released : 1993
So when everyone’s running round saying that hip-hop is over and that it’s best days are in the past, that the age of the MC has gone, what do you go and do? Well, nothing by trying too hard. Not really. A Tribe Called Quest having already set out the template once for this thing with Low End Theory then kept on changing the rules, making it harder and harder for others to keep up and generally taking their highly evolved version of the rap game to levels few even of their peers were capable of matching.
The best part though was that ATCQ felt and knew that they could still have fun with it, that the why-so-serious mask of creative Rigor mortis was for some other suckers. Their third album Midnight Marauders was initially treated with either mild praise, uncertainty or disdain, folks looking back to the past or more concerned about the group’s present. It’s developed an impeccable critical half-life since, but back then, people had trouble telling how real it all was.
Q-Tip and co. brought in De La Soul‘s Trugoy for Award Tour, a grittier, funkier, beat-blasting t-shirt of all the places they’d annexed and suckers left in their wake. Was it cerebral enough, though? Who knew. Who cared. On it a funky Rhodes gave us warmth like the sun, Tip’s snares sounded like a thunderstorm falling down a million stairs and the rhymes flowed like the champagne in Business Class. For guys who were supposedly falling off, this was mighty superior inferior work.