Finding The GOAT Group: A Tribe Called Quest vs. Black Sheep. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s 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 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.
Round 2 begins with a Native Tongues showdown. A Tribe Called Quest had one of the biggest margins of victory in Round 1. Their next opponent, Black Sheep, won a very tight competition. These two New York City outfits ran in the same circles. While A.T.C.Q. added to its iconic discography less than two years ago, Black Sheep is mostly held to a celebrated debut and a slept-on follow-up. The fans will set the score on this one as the match-ups get even more interesting in Round 2.
A Tribe Called Quest
(defeated Souls Of Mischief in Round 1, 95% to 5%)
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.
(defeated Main Source in Round 1, 52% to 48%)
Hip-Hop duo Black Sheep (Andres “Dres” Vargas Titus and William “Mista Lawnge / Mr. Long” McLean) are both natives of New York. However, they met as teenagers in Sanford, North Carolina. After linking up in 1989 and soon affiliating with Native Tongues and D.I.T.C., Dres and Mista Lawnge released their debut album A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing in 1991. With the singles “Flavor of the Month” and “The Choice Is Yours,” the album gained praise and recognition in the Hip-Hop community for the album’s unique rhythms and intelligent lyrics. The group’s second album Non-Fiction was released in late 1994, absorbed in its predecessor’s shadow. Since Y2K, the Sheep have re-assembled the herd at least twice, reuniting for limited edition EP, Redlight/Greenlight. Black Sheep Dres (as he now goes by) has released two solo projects under the group name in the last dozen years. However, thanks to song licensing and playlists, the early ’90s Black Sheep legacy still burns strong.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.