A Tribe Called Quest Say They Have A Lot Of Unreleased Music In The Vault (Video)
Today (11/13), A Tribe Called Quest released the 25th anniversary deluxe edition of their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Tribe members Phife Dawg, Jarobi and Ali Shaheed Muhammad joined the Ebro in the Morning show to discuss the album and ATCQ history, generally. Although Q-Tip did not attend, his presence was felt by all and his absence was a looming metaphor throughout the discussion.
Within 2 minutes of the conversation, Ebro dives in asking Ali Shaheed Muhammad why Tribe’s music sounded the way it did, compared to how “thin” much of today’s music sounds (1:55). Ali responds, in-depth, giving a very technical description of the contrast between how trap music is made, versus the more melodic, jazz-infused sounds that dominated ATCQ’s body of work. The topic then shifts to A Tribe Called Quest’s distinctive afrocentric fashion, particularly dashikis, at the time of their debut, with Phife being the noticeable outlier as he preferred sports attire (3:00).
As the discussion advances, the group talks about the special elements of the anniversary edition of the album, including a re-mastering by longtime ATCQ engineer Bob Power, and remixes by J. Cole, Pharrell and Cee Lo (5:28). Laura Stylez asks how the remixers were chosen and Ali candidly replies that it was a mixture of people the group asked to do remixes and who got back to them. It makes one wonder who would leave Tribe hanging and how those re-interpretations of their songs would have sounded.
At 7:23, the conversation shifts to the elephant in the room or, more accurately, the absence of The Abstract. Ebro uses Michael Rappaport’s Beats, Rhymes & Life documentary, and some of its revelations about tensions within the group, as an entry point. He starts by asking Phife if he thinks Tribe will tour this year and the Five Footer responds with an emphatic “no.” When asked if he would like to tour, Phife says yes, without hesitation. Ebro then systematically asks each of the other 2 members if they would tour and it becomes clear from their responses that the only holdout likely is Q-Tip. They have a candid discussion about the group’s ups and downs over the years but attribute it to life changes and business, as much as any personal issues. In the end, Ali does not rule out a tour at some point down the road.
With a tour seemingly off the table in the near future, Ebro looks back in time and asks if there is any unreleased ATCQ material (14:15). It’s at this point that things get really exciting. Each of the members says there was a lot of material that hasn’t been released, including several remixes (“8 versions of ‘Scenario'”), as well as material from Native Tongues offshoot groups like Fabulous Fleas, the group that Q-Tip and Posdnuos formed.
The trip down memory lane leads to talk of the days when ATCQ was opening for De La Soul (15:45). Everyone in the room marvels at how strong De La Soul are as performers, even to this day. Ali speaks about how much Tribe learned from watching De La perform, from the showmanship to the musicality. They also talk about times that De La had to “knuckle up” and “get busy” at concerts, presumably when audience members got out of hand. Tribe then discuss some altercations they had in their day. Ali says “we’re peaceful brothers and with peace, sometimes you get challenged more.”