Finding The GOAT Group: A Tribe Called Quest vs. Run-D.M.C. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’ annual competition series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry (which has been determined), including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16, an Elite 8, and so on, until one winner is determined. For each match-up, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot count.
It is a Queens, New York match-up between two sets of kings. In the 1980s, Run-D.M.C. took Rap music to the next level in so many ways. The group made the Hollis section a landmark. The trio changed the way rappers dressed, spit their verses, and rocked shows. They made movies and pioneers big-time brand partnerships. After the trio released its first four albums, as strong as any yet seen in Rap, nearby A Tribe Called Quest began ramping up with their own legendary discography. This group influenced album-making, sampling, and subject matters in the genre for years to come. Tribe is one of the only groups who can come back after 18 years away, and go straight to #1. This bout could easily go either way, but it will likely be hard-fought. A group that dominated the 1980s faces off against a crew that creatively ran the 1990s. Only one Queens collective can be the king. Your vote sends the winner one step closer to the throne.
A Tribe Called Quest
A.T.C.Q. stands tall as one of Hip-Hop’s most trusted and consistent sources of music. For nearly 20 years, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad (and sometimes Jarobi White) released six distinctly-themed albums and two handfuls of additional songs via soundtracks and Native Tongues features. In all of it, Tribe oozed originality. Lyrically, they covered unique and universally accessible subject matters with whimsically inventive rhyme routines. Songs about lust, resisting oppressive governments, and coping with stress were intermixed with elite Rap illustrations about collecting props and besting lesser MCs. In step with their song themes, the group was at the forefront of free-form sampling, eventually drawing extensively from Jazz in a way that re-purposed record crates for producers across the genre. Lou Reed, Funkadelic and Ramsey Lewis records were sliced precisely in a way that showed respect for musical forefathers, without relying on their grooves. The interplay with Tip and Phife epitomized chemistry with distinct voices and personality, as Ali spoke with crisp cuts. The Queens, New York collective produced its music, especially the biggest hits. Through the journey from teenagers, to proven Rap stars, and reunited family after an 18-year hiatus, Tribe was on a Quest to be something different in the musical space. All six LPs achieved gold or platinum status, with 2016’s We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service earning a #1 on the group’s final award tour. Having retired the group in the wake of Phife’s death, A.T.C.Q. is an immortal Hip-Hop brand that made the Rap group like its coolest in four different decades.
The original kings of Queens have been often imitated, but never duplicated in how they turned the music community on its ear when some still viewed Rap as a fad. Run-D.M.C. became top-selling acts with music that melded hard rock guitar riffs with towering vocals and street-savvy content. Run, Darryl, and Jam Master Jay gave Hip-Hop music and fashion a facelift as they took a hardcore sound to the mainstream. They accomplished several firsts as a Rap group: the first with their video “Rock Box” featured on MTV in 1983, the first Rap group on the cover of Rolling Stone, and the first with a platinum-selling LP with 1986’s Raising Hell. Through seven studio albums, Run-D.M.C. cemented their place in music history and are among the five Hip-Hop acts inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their first two albums, the self-titled effort and King Of Rock, catapulted them into the conversation of Rap’s elite in 1983 and 1984, respectively. But their biggest hit to date “Walk This Way” revived would-be Rock legends, Aerosmith, to become one of Rap’s most important songs to date. Run-D.M.C. was an undeniable force in the marketing world with product placement tune “My Adidas.” Although JMJ was murdered in 2002, this group’s legacy burns bright. It’s like that, and that’s the way it will always be.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.