“Your whole appearance is a lie and it could never be true, and if you love yourself then you should try to be you”
1991 was a great year for hip-hop with the music being more mainstream and hip-hop was finally realized to be more than just violence or offensive statements. The sound of hip-hop was welcomed to jazz with the help of the hip-hop collective “A Tribe Called Quest“. The Tribe had a lot to prove even though their debut album “People Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” did well. Upon the release, the album success was heavily doubted by label executives and writers until the NY collectives released the two singles “Scenario” and “Jazz (We’ve Got) Buggin Out”. After it was released the album moved 500,000 copies and was named number 1 in the US and RIAA confirm the album went platinum. Also, The Source magazine gave the album it’s first 5 mic rating. This album was very important for The Tribe and for the hip-hop community as well.
Most of “The Low-End Theory” production was done by Q-Tip which showed that he is to be taken seriously as a producer, Tip is credited with the brilliant fusion of jazz and hip-hop, most of the beats being comprised of vocal drums and bass. “We’ve got the jazz, we’ve got the jazz” is all I was saying after I let the album grow on me, songs like “Jazz“, “Buggin Out”, or “Butter” is a great example of the jazz fusion. Q-tip production was taking a new direction. Throughout the production, it was more centered around live instruments, also the jazz samples were mostly hard-hitting beats with a lot of bass like “Excursion”. Ron Carter “the most booked double bassist “stated the way the Q-tip and Ali crafted songs around an entire sample was the most impressive thing he has ever seen in a recording session.
The album was very critical of The Tribe music career going forward, like any other rap act your second album is supposed to show growth and kind of foreshadow what your career will be like. Many obstacles were placed in front of the icons, Phife Dawg recently found out he was diabetic, Jarobi left the crew to pursue his dream in culinary arts, and they were getting no support from their labels. All of the recordings were done in Manhattan with the company of the great J.Dilla. Q-Tip was in full album mode but Phife Dawg wasn’t fully into it because at the time the Phife was more into the streets until bumping into Q-Tip and was told that he should come record a few songs and that he should take it seriously. The chemistry between Q-Tip and Phife was like no other, “Check the Rhime” is on one Hip Hop best back to back songs, from “The Low-End Theory” going on Q-Tip and Phife were like Jordan and Pippen, Ying and Yang. “The Low-End Theory” was Phife Dawg coming out party, Q-Tip was leading the cast on the entire album but Phife Dawg was like John Stockton with the assist, “Butter” is the one song that made all Hip Hop critics turn their heads around. Phife wasn’t the only rapper who gain spotlight from the album, Busta Rhymes also gain much attention for his role on the album, “verses from the abstract” shows how much the tribe loves Busta Rhymes. “Scenario” was the third single that was released for the album, Busta Rhymes verse was no debate the best on the song, Busta Rhymes being apart of “Leaders of New School” the song scenario is helped launch Busta solo career.
The content of “The Low-End Theory” was way ahead of its time. The album was socially woked targeting today’s topics like industry issues, relationships, and what the generation was consuming. The content stood out given that the music released around the time was mostly hardcore gangster rap, Ron Parker stated that Q-tip and the crew wanted to minimize the use of explicit language while addressing real issues on the album. The content was more “street smart”, “self-conscious” and made you feel like The Tribe would be your big brother that tells you committing crimes is for lames, or how you should always follow your dreams. “You on point Tip ?” “All the time Phife”, The flow of the mixture was filled with soul & hip-hop beat were undeniably legendary. Phife voice was very high and his MC style had a lot of humor while Q-tip was the opposite being more philosophical, and self-conscious. Those that reminisce about the album have all stated that “The Low-End Theory” is the smoothest album known to hip-hop today.
“Industry rule #4080, record company people are shady.”