I don't really listen to hip hop. The only rap groups I like are the Roots, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest. Nowadays rap seems too aggressive, and a rapper will either spit out rhymes that just plain suck or are convoluted and too complex. Jurassic 5 is one group that I liked for a while, but I got tired of them because all they seemed to do is rhyme vocabulary words.
The Tribe suffers from neither of those problems. In The Low End Theory, you'll notice their signature laid-back jazzy beats and their laid-back rhymes. Jazz (We've Got) has a great beat; it has drums that sound real, and though the loop is only three notes long, it gives a nice laid-back feel, plus there's some nice sax parts along the way. Check The Rhime has an incredible beat, with trumpets and a whole jazz band feel to it. Buggin' Out sounds like it has an upright bass in it, and it sounds pretty boss. Everything Is Fair has a great sample running over and over with a beat, and then an organ or something comes in. Basically, every single track has a kind of breezy feel to it; unlike a lot of rap beats now that are more in-your-face and listen-to-me! If rap can be relaxing, this is it.
Q-Tip especially can lay down pretty simple verses that still sound good and Phife Dawg isn't too far behind. In Check The Rhime the Phifer shows us what a good hip hop verse is...
Now here's a funky introduction of how nice I am
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram
I'm like an Energizer because you see we last long
My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong.
You don't need a thesaurus to understand this verse; it's simple, but it flows well. ATCQ apparently had a lot of problems with their record label at the time and so on Show Business, Q-Tip tells us what he thinks of the music industry.
Yo, I gotta speak on the cesspool
It's the rap industry and it ain't that cool
Only if you're on stage or if you're speakin' to your people
Ain't no one your equal
Especially on the industry side
Don't let the games just glide
Right through your fingers, you gotta know the deal
So Lord Jamar speak, because you're real...
Most of the songs are about the overall crappiness of the music industry, or about girls. Like in Butter, Phife talks about some girl he knew named Flo. Metaphor? Maybe, but it makes plenty of sense literally. The best part is the chorus when the word Butter keeps repeating and you hear Q-Tip going "not no margarine" in case we've mixed up our dairy products. Then Phife Dawg goes on talking about how he doesn't like fake women.
You looked in the mirror, didn't know what to do
Yesterday your eyes were brown, but today they are blue
Your whole appearance is a lie, and it could never be true
And if you really loved yourself, then you would try and be you
If your hair and eyes were real, I wouldn't have dissed ya
But since it was bought, I had to dismiss ya...
Then he says he's got more game than Parker Brothers and once again reiterates that he is smooth like butter. Nice song.
In The Infamous Date Rape, they rap about...a date rape. Thoughtful subject matter, with a appropriately dark sounding beat. Sky Pager is a silly, playful song about pagers and has a touchtone phone as one of the instruments. Q-Tip also says "Uh!" repeatedly in the song.
And finally, this album is known for jumpstarting Busta Rhymes' career. Scenario is by far the most rowdy and loud sounding song of the album, so it's not really my favorite, but it's got some great rhyming and that famous verse from Busta with the "rooooarrrr roooarrrr like a dungeon dragon" line, but I'm not a big fan of Busta so I will admit he throws in a nice verse here but that's all I'm going to say about him.
So yeah. Not all rap is about murder and some of it is actually quite easy on the ears. Imagine if 50 Cent went on a tropical vacation, chilled out, stopped talking about how many times he got shot, and made easy breezy music. Ok, that wasn't the best analogy, but the beats are nice and jazzy, rhymes are nice and simple, and it's a shame that the Tribe isn't around today!
1. Excursions-5 Stars
2. Buggin Out-5 Stars
3. Rap Promoter-4 Stars
4. Butter-5 Stars
5. Verses From The Abstract-4 Stars
6. Show Business-5 Stars
7. Vibes And Stuff-4 Stars
8. The Infamous Date Rape-4 Stars
9. Check The Rhime-5 Stars
10. Everything Is Fair-5 Stars
11. Jazz (Weve Got)-5 Stars
12. Skypager-4 Stars
13. What?-4 Stars
14. Scenario-4 Stars
Junk that CD player and get an iPod!