I was at Tribe’s last show at Tramps in NYC in 1998 when the group announced their breakup. I still remember the feeling of shock that went through the room that night. Everybody who was there felt hurt. That’s the first time the idea of making a documentary came to mind. Their music was such a big part of my life, and it’s the same for everybody who loves hip-hop.
Ten years after that show at Tramps I went on tour with Tribe and started production on the film Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. It took a lot of hard work and there’s been some bumps in the road, but it’s all been worth it. The movie has been a box-office success and it’s still playing in theaters. For a documentary about a hip-hop group that hasn’t made a record in 15 years to do this well is phenomenal. I’m just happy to have been associated with A Tribe Called Quest and a film that’s important for hip-hop.
The group released just five albums, but each of them is a masterpiece in its own right. Everybody has their personal favorites, but the two that always seem to stick out are The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. That’s like a never-ending debate: which one of those is Tribe’s best album?
First of all, let me say that this is really hard. For me to pick one of these albums is like choosing a favorite child. I’m sure a lot of people feel that way because each one is so perfect in its own way. I don’t want to start any riots, but I’m up for the challenge. And today happens to be the 20th anniversary of the release of The Low End Theory, so what better time? I do this for the culture. So click through while I break it down point by point.
(If you’re still not convinced, there’s a lot more insight into these questions on the DVD of Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Journeys of A Tribe Called Quest, which drops October 18.)
By Michael Rapaport (@MichaelRapaport)
As told to Rob Kenner (@boomshots)