Fans of A Tribe Called Quest now have reason to rejoice. No we’re not talking about a new album or a reunion, but something just as good – the reissue of the classic The Low End Theory. In an interview with BBC Radio 1Xtra Q-Tip was quoted as saying that he plans on re-releasing the album as a special 25th anniversary edition which’ll feature unreleased music and alternate mixes.
Thick apple-bottom basslines, smokey breaks pulled from obscurity and lyrics – lyrics for days. The Low End Theory, an underground classic with the fingerprints of some of the most influential figures in hip-hop: Ron Carter, Bob Power and the Leaders of the New School to name a few. It’s still considered an overlooked gem, nestled between the groundbreaking People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and the forever fresh Midnight Marauders. Basically what Buhloone Mindstate was to De La Soul.
The overall feel was casual and loose with the tone settling in as conversational like you were hanging at the barber shop with the guys or at the park watching a pick-up basketball game. They had finally introduced themselves to the world and were just beginning to settle into a groove. Listen on “Butter” as Uncle Phife speaks of heartbreak and how the only thing to do when it happens is get up, brush the dirt off and get back at it: [LISTEN]
Is this really love, then again how would I know
After all this time trying to be a Super Ho
She finally played me, but yo I’d find another
Cause I got the crazy game and yo, I’m smooth like butter
The Low End Theory has hits (“Check The Rhime” and “Scenario“), but it’s songs like “The Infamous Date Rape” that linger with intrigue and controversy. There’s any number of ways to look at it, and on the surface it may seem to go against Tribe’s socially conscious grain. But it’s more likely just character play, chiming the public in on harsh realities through the perspective of the victim and the perp: [LISTEN]
Listen to the rhyme, it’s a black date fact
Percentile rate of date rape is fat
This is all due to the reason of the skeezin’
You got the right pickin’ but you’re in the wrong season
If you’re in the wrong season, that means you gotta break
Especially if a squaw tries to cry out rape
Q-Tip’s announcement comes at the height of the ’90s revival movement. You got the reuniting of Outkast, the 20th anniversary of Illmatic and who can forget De La Soul who in celebration of the 25 Anniversary of 3 Feet High and Rising made their entire catalog available for free download. And now it’s Tribe’s turn.
As the date grows closer you’ll no doubt hear demands of a reunion, but this should be just as good. Who remembers Jordan for his days with the Wizards or Muhammad Ali versus Larry Holmes? No one wants to see legends fumble. So if this is what we get then great, extra unreleased goodies from a classic will most certainly do.