Q-Tip Describes The Shift In Music That Caused The End Of A Tribe Called Quest (Video)

This month has returned A Tribe Called Quest to album-making for the first time in 18 years. We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is the current #1 album, and A.T.C.Q’s first in 20 years—achieving a new chart feat within the Hip-Hop genre. The LP reunited Q-Tip with the late Phife Dawg (who died in March of this year), as well as founding Tribe member Jarobi.

Speaking with CRWN, Q-Tip clarified why, following 1998’s Grammy-nominated, gold-certified The Love Movement, the group went on recording hiatus. According to The Abstract, the break between the then-trio (including Phife and Ali Shaheed Muhammad) had less to do with their personal dynamics, then it did the state of Hip-Hop.

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As he tells Elliott Wilson, the 18-year break was started by a shifting Rap industry model. “I just felt like the industry and the music was just starting to move; it was starting to come off of [Hip-Hop] being a group-thing. You had Tribe, you had UGK, you had N.W.A., Geto Boys—we all toured together; we all did our thing together.”

N.W.A., which in 1988, dealt with solo side projects from Eazy-E (other members followed) would lead an industry change, especially in Hip-Hop. By 1998, successful groups including Geto Boys, Wu-Tang Clan, Leaders Of The New School, Tha Dogg Pound, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, EMPD, Stetsasonic, Brand Nubian, and 3rd Bass had all tried solo albums. A Tribe Called Quest, according to Q-Tip, saw the writing on the wall.

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The artist also points to a 1997 seven-times-platinum album that would take Grammy honors for the Rap category in ’98. “Puff [Daddy] put it out: No Way Out. That was kinda like the [game-changer]. It just changed; it was like a real shift.” To that point, Puff Daddy was Bad Boy Records’ founder and CEO. He made a solo debut, featuring numerous guests—including developing artists on his own label. Tip continued, “In what the marketplace was, in terms of Hip-Hop, it become more of a solo [industry]. It was really cemented there. That album was just wildly successful, and a lot of the music started to tinge towards [the sound of No Way Out].”

While A Tribe Called Quest and Puffy were both sample-driven creators, Puff’s album also featured a Pop-savvy sound.

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Busta Rhymes, who attended the CRWN conversation, was a guest on The Love Movement and No Way Out. All three members of the Tribe (at the time) would release solo albums following 1998. Tip’s 1999 solo debut, Amplified, would also spark Grammy nominations.

In the 2000s, A Tribe Called Quest released one song, “I C U (Doin’ It),” featuring Erykah Badu. They also toured together multiple times.