In the '80s and '90s, the core members of the Native Tongues (Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Black Sheep) talked and lived the concept of change—garish print shirts, African medallions, psychedelic album art, digging in the crates for rare grooves, friendly but competitive subliminal disses on wax, subverting stereotypes, and writing rhymes of transcendence and redemption. The Native Tongues movement was preoccupied with aesthetics, but the running assumptions were that aesthetics were meaningful and that a tasteful style was itself a kind of laudable substance. But beyond their flamboyant presentation and bohemian sensibility, the Native Tongues were about constructing haunting, beautiful songs out of the fuzzy, bassy, scratchy, nearly forgotten remnants of virtually every black American musical tradition that ever seduced mainstream audiences. With a focus on the core members, we got the good folks from The T.R.O.Y. Blog to figure out The 100 Greatest Native Tongues Songs.
Words by Jason Gloss (@troyblog) and Thun (@thunactualfacts)