Happy Thanksgiving! While you’re savoring the day with friends and family and a big ole’ feast, we’re celebrating with a crew of our favorite artists at the table this year. Here’s what everyone’s bringing:
Bob Dylan knows where to begin: with a “Turkey Chase.” Once wrangled, the bird can be topped with George Benson‘s famous “Giblet Gravy.”
While that’s getting prepped, Snoop will set up the beverage station — “Gin and Juice,” anyone?
Rick Ross, the real star of this meal, will handle the hors devours: “More better, more cheddar” (“Here I Am”); ”Air train and peanuts, it’s time to slide” (Yung Joc‘s “Brand New”); “Order crab legs with the heavy butter” (“New Bugatti”); some lobster bisque (“I Love My Bitches”); and let’s get an order of those lemon-pepper Wingstop chicken wings, because why not.
With an impressive dossier full of production credits compiled over the years, Q-Tip is a behind-the-scenes force on his own. Just this morning, however, Def Jam released a press release announcing that, through Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, the A Tribe Called Quest co-founding rapper/producer has been added to the label’s esteemed hip-hop family, reuniting him with chairman and CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam, Barry Weiss, whom Tip knows from his days at Jive in the early 90s.
Joining the already-robust G.O.O.D. Music roster alongside Big Sean, John Legend, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, and others, Q-Tip will be able to flex his creative muscle amongst other hungry artists – veterans and up-and-comers alike – all while consulting and collaborating with head honcho, Kanyeezy. In friendship and in business, the rapping producers clearly see eye to eye; back in December, we saw Kanye and Tip palling around together backstage at Florence + The Machine’sMTV Unplugged taping with some tall ladies in tow, and overheard them discussing plans to hit the studio that night. It seems that our in-that-moment daydreaming wish for a fresh collaboration from the pair (beyond Watch The Throne’s “That’s My Bitch” and others of the past) seems to have morphed into a bigger partnership – one which further solidifies G.O.O.D. Music’s crew-cred within a hip-hop ecosystem that’s slowly becoming more and more about who’s on which team: MMG. YMCMB/OVOXO. Grand Hustle. ASAP Mob.
Last week, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest’s seminal album, The Low End Theory, and after spending quality time with the LP, it became clear that many artists may have snagged sonic gems from the trendsetting hip-hop quartet over the years. If you’re a fan of rap music, you already know that sampling and re-working existing songs is commonplace in the creative process; similar to contemporary art’s idea of the “readymade,” producers will lift elements from one song and add them to a new canvas to re-envision their use. But what happens when the same thing is done with lyrics?
One little-known fact: Lil’ Wayne’s“A Milli” is a slowed-down sample of one of Phife’s lines from a remix of “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” off Tribe’s first album, 1990′s Peoples’ Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Sometimes referred to as swagger-jacking, a rapper re-purposing the bars of artists before him or her can in other circumstances be seen as a salute-beckoning sign of respect. And in Tribe’s case, it should be! In addition to sitting down with ATCQ for their first joint interview since 1998, we also got to chat individually with in-and-out, behind-the-scenes group member Jarobi White to scoop his brains for memories on the group’s incredible second album. In honor of its Album-Versary, we present you with Jarobi’s exclusive interview clips, and the Top 5 Recycled Lines From The Low End Theory.
Yesterday, we brought you the first installment of our two-part VH1 Album-Versaries: The Low End Theory at 20, reflecting on A Tribe Called Quest?s ground-breaking second album, The Low End Theory. After assembling all four group-members in a joint-interview for the first time in almost fourteen years, we were able to share exclusive stories from their recording sessions at Battery Studios and, with help from hip hop expert Sway, cultural critic extraordinaire Nelson George, and international journalist Boss Lady, lauded the album’s effortless ability to resonate with the masses. In today?s Part II, we delve further into The Low End Theory?s sonic framework, the roles of MC Phife Dawg and Q-Tip, and come full circle to set the group?s highly-speculated relationship issues straight.
THE HIP HOP BEATLES
?Coming off the first album, the question was ?well, what does HE do??? recalls Phife, hyper-aware of what listeners thought of his seemingly-small contribution on the group?s debut project. Often referred to as his lyrical coming out party, The Low End Theory truly did give Phife the platform to hunker down and fully transition from (what Jarobi would describe as) being ?young and crazy? to a focused, rhyme-writing, studio-attending MC. His high-pitched, witty lyrics complimented Q-Tip?s smooth vocal delivery, and Phife wound up on 9 of the album?s 14 tracks, a drastic and well-deserved upgrade from the four he appeared on with People?s Instinctive Travels?.
There’s more! Follow along to read the conclusion of VH1 Album-Versaries: The Low End Theory at 20.
A Tribe Called Quest dropped their second full-length album, The Low End Theory, in late September of 1991. Widely recognized as a ground-breaking work today because of the manner in which it experimentally weaved layers of sampled jazz elements into its sound-bed, the album earned a spot in Time?s All-Time 100 Albums List, was named the #154 album of all-time by Rolling Stone and was celebrated at 2007′s VH1 Hip Hop Honors. The group recalls that early chapter of their career vividly, and last week, for A Tribe Called Quest’s first joint-interview since 1998, all four members of the group spoke exclusively to VH1 to mark the 20th anniversary of The Low End Theory?s release.
For Questers, music fans and students of hip hop culture, Beats, Rhymes and Life is a must-see, but the effect it had on the lives of everyone involved in the project and the press frenzy that lingers might still be a bit misleading to the outside world. In order to help contextualize this landmark album’s impact, we spoke with MTV’s in-house hip hop expert Sway, cultural critic extraordinaire Nelson George, and international journalist Boss Lady about the resonance that this LP had then, and also now, 20 years later. And while A Tribe Called Quest appears to still be somewhat re-acquainting themselves with each other after dissolving in 1998 and wrestling with the last few years? shell-shocking chain of events, it was clear from the time we spent with them that Kamaal ?Q-Tip? Ibn John Fareed, Malik ?Phife Dawg? Taylor, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and, yes, even Jarobi White are still very much an unbreakable Tribe of brothers.
With MTV officially celebrating its 30th birthday today, music nostalgia is in the air. But for each music fan, the initial introduction to MTV’s music programming was unique and personal, and likely rouses up flashbulb memories to this very day. Speaking only for myself, that initiation process started with YO! MTV Raps.
After being on the air for almost seven years, MTV first aired YO! in April of 1988. While other television outlets like BET were showcasing African-American culture at the time, MTV, quite frankly, wasn’t really in the business of having black artists’ videos on the channel. And hip hop, specifically, was certainly not yet used as a vehicle of pop culture; if it wasn’t an indisputable, mainstream force like Michael Jackson, you probably wouldn’t see African-American artists on-air besides an occasional crossover video from Run DMC and Jazzy Jeff. Unless you witnessed hip hop music and culture bubbling within New York City’s five boroughs or other domestic regional pockets first hand (or watched Video Music Box), the genre probably hadn’t really made its way into your world yet.
From it’s inception, YO! MTV Raps curated an balance of hip hop via in-the-moment self-exploration. Since hosts Fab 5 Freddy, Doctor Dr? and Ed Lover didn’t have quite enough content to populate the show’s segments at first, videos from other genres like reggae, funk, R&B and soul were peppered-in to help hip hop’s still-developing definition expand its scope. From that fundamental, harmonious and educational coexistence came more of the same, and soon light-hearted videos like Digital Underground’s “Doowutchalike” and “Humpty Dance” were seamlessly airing beside Public Enemy’s political anthem “Fight The Power” and sonically dynamic “Passin’ Me By” from The Pharcyde, and the South’s sexually-charged posse 2 Live Crew were showcased just as much as funky artists from Queens like A Tribe Called Quest. Additionally, lyrically savvy Juice Crew member Big Daddy Kane would spin alongside the West Coast’s gangster juggernaut N.W.A., and strong female voices like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Roxanne Shant?: all women who didn’t need to sell sex to survive.
Where were you when you first discovered email? We sincerely hope that the first time you learned of the existence of this newfangled thing called “electronic mail” while watching YO! MTV Raps back in 1994. While scouring the archives for our celebration of MTV’s 30th Anniversary, we stumbled upon this clip of YO! host Fab 5 Freddy waxing poetic on the virtues of modems, the information superhighway, and “computer flavor.” Not only does he explain what email is and how to use it, but he throws props to some of the hip hop world’s early adopters of this then-futuristic technology (including A Tribe Called Quest, The Native Tongue Crew, and KRS-One). And if all else fails, we have your next catchphrase for you to impress your friends with: “I’m outta here, like computers from the ’60s.”
You can catch highlights from the early days of MTV during this, the 30th anniversary of the channel’s launch, all weekend long on VH1 Classic.
Brooklyn rap fans were abuzz before Q-Tip‘s headlining set at the 2011 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival on Saturday. After all, “Q-Tip + Friends” couldn’t just refer to the supporting sets by Random Axe, M.O.P. and others, right? Rumor had it that A Tribe Called Quest would reunite?which makes a sort of sense, since Ali Shaheed Muhammad was also on the bill and Beats, Rhymes, and Life is in theaters. What the crowd wasn’t expecting was that Q-Tip’s “friends” would include Kanye West. After performing “Dark Fantasy” and “All of the Lights,” Kanye backed Q-Tip on ATCQ classic “Award Tour” (something Kanye knows a little bit about). Watch the performance above!
Kanye wasn’t the only high-profile guest during Q-Tip’s set. Black Thought of The Roots performed with Q-Tip on a number of songs. And while Phife Dawg did not appear to complete a Tribe reunion, Busta Rhymes did, to perform his verse on “Scenario.” Watch below:
Another Side To The Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest Story
A main source of the tension on A Tribe Called Quest‘s 2008 tour, as documented in the new film Beats, Rhymes, & Life (directed by Michael Rappaport, pictured above with Phife Dawg), is an interview Q-Tip gave to Spin. Today the Awl ran a complementary piece by the author of that Q-Tip profile. [The Awl]
Morrissey Prefers Edith Piaf To “McDonna” And Has “No Love For” Himself But Plenty For His Music
Also among the unsurprising quotes in the interview Billboard published today: “The word ‘indie’ is meaningless now.” We’d say, “Never change,” but Morrissey certainly isn’t in danger of that. [Billboard] Read more…
The controversy over Nas‘ forthcoming ablum, Nigger, is growing more intense with news that one of its songs subverts the old Dr. Pepper jingle by replacing the word “Pepper” with the N-word:
“I’m a nigger, he’s a nigger,
she’s a nigger, we’re a nigger
Wouldn’t you like to be a nigger too?”
- From Nas’ “Be A Nigger Too” (Listen here)
Before this latest shocker, a lot had been written about who is in support of Nas’ album title (Jay-Z, Common, Alicia Keys, Don Imus) and who isn’t (NAACP, Jesse Jackson, 50 Cent). 50 Cent, among others, says Nas is going for “shock value.” The fact that rappers have embraced the word and rendered it less hurtful and more banal through overuse for at least two decades may lend some credence to his claim. Maybe this is why Nas’ earlier statement seemed kind of weak:
“I wanna make the word easy on muthaf***ers’ ears. You see how white boys ain’t mad at ‘cracker’ ’cause it don’t have the same [sting] as ‘nigger’? I want ‘nigger’ to have less meaning [than] ‘cracker.’”
But Nas’ new song could pull more people into his corner and back up Jay-Z’s earlier statement: “I know he’s very intelligent and there’s a reason behind what he’s doing.” Pairing a once-omnipresent commercial song that is childlike in its simplicity with one of the most incendiary words in the English language raises so many questions that it could make heads explode. Could Nas be commenting on how big business packages and sells just about anything to kids — from soft drinks to gangsta rap? Could he be attempting to hit back at the very commercialization that has damaged hip-hop as an art form? Could he be doing all of the above and stirring up controversy to sell albums, too?
Nas’ intentions may not yet be totally clear, but we’re all waiting to hear more. — Matt Muro