A Newly Released ’96 Cypher Shows A Tribe Called Quest Schooling Phony Rappers (Audio)

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This month, A Tribe Called Quest released their sixth and said to be final album. We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service appeared to shock to the music world, when it was revealed to exist, less than six months after Phife Dawg’s March death. It had been 18 years since The Love Movement, and in the minds of many, A.T.C.Q. was a legendary group whose discography had been cemented, for good.

With the 16 new tracks, other music is appearing from the wings. British mainstay DJ Tim Westwood released a relic he’d been sitting on for 20 years. From 1996’s Beats, Rhymes & Life campaign, Q-Tip, Phife, and affiliate Consequence (who’d break through care of the album) joined Funkmaster Flex on the cut to lace Tim with a freestyle. In a transitional year for the group (who sought outside production help, thanks to Jay Dee aka J Dilla), Tribe showed they still had the goods—(“like Madelyne Woods“).

Q-Tip & Phife Release Their Most Political Song Ever & It Ain’t Nothin’ Nice (Video)

Notably, this just-digitized radio freestyle—which appears to be largely off-the-top for all three MCs, shows Native Tongue Unity from Tip. Three years after De La Soul alluded to bad taste among the Tongues on Buhloone Mindstate’s “I Am I Be,” The Abstract shouts out L.O.N.S., especially Busta Rhymes, the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul—as well as Mobb Deep, Large Professor, and Flipmode Squad’s Rampage. The Tongues and Hip-Hop were clearly in a good place, as a about-his-biz Tip drops a line from “The Message” to show that in 9-6, ain’t a damn thing funny.

Phife sets his first verse off with a barrage of ill similes—referencing cars, MCs, and a punchline about the K.K.K. Cons, who still freestyles regularly, shows his hunger for the spotlight. Cons-To-The (as he was using then, too) even drops his first name in his rhymes. Heads can hear the Kanye West influence from the Queens MC. The mic circles around a few times, with all three MCs basking in the moment—as a legendary crew still true to fundamentals.

Look Back To An Ill 1998 Future Flavas Freestyle From The Last Days Of A Tribe Called Quest (Audio)

I’m that same MC from when you did not want to hear me / But hopped on my jock with Midnight and Low End Theory.” – Phife Dawg