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The 10: Red Black and Green

By: Winston Brown

I was in the process of writing a follow up to my article on Saturday Cartoons of the 80’s when I had to make a detour.

I’ve made it known that music is life for me. I was in the mood for some head-nod Hip-Hop. My go-to for that is a 90’s group that was pretty much the soundtrack to my teenage years. To this day, I still feel their first three albums are perfect. No errors. That’s a tough thing to do. Three perfect albums that are still perfect today. Ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about none other than A Tribe Called Quest. Consisting of members Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and sometimes member Jarobi. This New York trio managed to make music that reached me all the way in Detroit.

The year was 1990. I was on the phone with my bro Harry Weaver giving our analysis of that days episode of “Yo! MTV Raps.” Before Youtube, this was how we were able to get our fix of hip-hop. On this day, premiered their first video,” I Left My Wallet In El Segundo.” I was thrown off by the title, but the beat was so crazy! Harry and I were silent throughtout and when the video was over, it was like this was the dopest song we had ever heard. They didn’t play it on my radio stations, so I had to wait for the show to come on again before I could watch it. It sucked. The album dropped and Harry copped it. I didn’t even know it came out. He was dope enough to let me keep his for a minute. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. I can’t thank him enough because as soon as I put it in my tape deck, it didn’t come out until I had to give it back. It was played everyday. My favorite song changed everyday as well.

Their next two albums were just as anticipated, and just as dope. All coming out at pivotal times in my life. Sometimes really good, sometimes not so great. Always there for me. More albums followed, but the first three are what I always find myself running back to.

What follows is my ten songs from those three albums that I would recommend to someone who never heard any of their music. They aren’t ranked from best to worst either. Just songs that stuck with me throughout my life’s journey. I hope if you’ve never head any of this and you love Hip-Hop, you are in for a treat.

If you know, then you know already.

10. “Lyrics to Go” from the album their 1993 album “Midnight Marauders.” If I haven’t listened to them in a minute, this is usually the first song I play. Straight vibes.

9. “Electric Relaxation” also from “Midnight Marauders.” It to me is the best song ever made in Hip Hop. Very few perfect songs exist. This is one of them.

8. “Excursions” is from their second album, “Low End Theory.” Super jazzy, but also the beats are bonkers!  This song is for when you are in the mood to nod your head. This is another one that’s a vibe.

7. “Luck of Lucien” off of their very first album “Peoples’ Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm.” The title threw me off, but the album is so solid. Q-Tip was the producer and lead MC in the group. For your first major outing to be considered a classic should let you know. This song is perfect for a drive day or night.

6.”Check The Rhyme” is another one from “Low End Theory.” The intro on this one is so nasty!!! If you are having a BBQ or maybe it’s a nice day and your out washing your car, this is your soundtrack! This song deserves a million fire emoji’s.

5. “Footprints” is from the first album as well. It feels like a perfect Saturday. You’ve got great weather, gas, money and plans with friends. I feel like that’s the best way to describe this vibe.

4. “Description of a Fool” is more from their first offering. I don’t know if people roller skate anymore, but this is definitely the perfect song for that.

3. “Butter” is from “Low End Theory” and takes me right back to high school. Phife showed the world how nice he was as a lyricist. It’s a summertime vibe that never gets old.

2. “Skypager” is available on their first album and is one of the nastiest beats you’ve heard!!! You will not be disappointed.

1. “God Lives Through” is the final song on their third release, “Midnight Marauders.” It was the perfect song to end a perfect listen. Fire!!! Smooth with a super strong head nod factor.
Vibes on top of vibes. Definitely one that I throw on now when I just want to chill.

0. “Rhythm” is from their first album and is another one that has stuck with me forever. I know it’s only supposed to be ten, but I couldn’t forget this one. Q-Tip was amazing at giving you just the right amount of everything in his production. This song is a perfect example of that.

I know music is totally different now, but Tribe is one of those groups that transcend time and space.

I hope that these songs take you on a journey and you get caught up and become lifelong fans.

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