25 years ago, a pioneering hip-hop group burst onto the scene with “People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythms”.   They were one of the first hip-hop groups to bring jazz into the genre and really helped shape the New York alternative sound.  Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and previous member Jarobi are legends within music as a whole, and so it was a delight to hear they were re-issuing their debut album remastered and with 3 new remixes of three classics. Enter A Tribe Called Quest.

So here I am gleefully getting to speak on one of my favourite groups handing over three of my favourite songs to three awesome producers.  When you hear “Can I Kick It”, “Footprints” and “Bonita Applebum” are being remixed by J. Cole, Pharrell and featuring CeeLo Green, you should be as excited as me.  I mean: A Tribe Called Quest with those guys? That’s got to be a slice of heaven, right?

A Tribe Called Quest
Photo: theguardian.com

“Can I Kick It” is really well produced, in fact you might not associate it with Cole’s typical production style.  That’s probably what makes it so awesome: a really jazzy, gentle groove with Q-Tip and Phife’s verses still sounding as good as ever.  Personally I would have loved to hear Cole throw down a sixteen of his own; I guess I can understand not wanting to take too much of a liberty with such a well-known and legendary track.

“Bonita Applebum” still needs to put me on, and Pharrell really took it to a new place, bringing a nice little synth vibe to the track consistent with more contemporary R’nB and hip-hop.  He still maintains the playful sexiness of the original with his signature drum loops and Q-tip’s seductive flows still hitting the mark.  It kisses you where some MCs won’t and tells you things some rappers don’t (see what I did there?).
A Tribe Called Quest

My personal favourite is easily “Footprints”.  Most of you will know Gnarls Barkley for the hit “Crazy” but did you know he is actually CeeLo Green too (and a damn good MC at that).  I first heard him on a track with Outkast and was hooked.  An upbeat, head nod and two step kind of track with an awesome verse by CeeLo – I’ve had it on repeat more than the others.

Obviously the debut was truly great and it’s hard to believe that a quarter of a century has already passed since its release.  I think it’s a great reason to look back though, and there aren’t many albums that are more deserving than those released by A Tribe Called Quest.  Hopefully it gets people to look back and appreciate what came before and paved the way for now.

So what are you waiting for? Buy a copy already!

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