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date: 03 April 2020

A Tribe Called Questlocked

  • Justin A. Williams


American rap group. Formed in Queens, New York City, in 1988, and signed with Jive Records in 1989, A Tribe Called Quest included producer/DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, MC/producer Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis), and MCs Phife (Malik Taylor) and Jarobi (the latter appearing only on the group’s first album). They were part of the Native Tongues, a loose collective of New York City-based groups, including the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul, whose Afrocentric lyrics often recalled the political and social consciousness of 1960s and 1970s America. Yet their eclecticism in both lyrical topics and musical styles almost always included an element of humor, allowing them to engage critically, but playfully, with a variety of themes, ranging from love to the music industry, from date rape to domestic abuse, from religion to the use of the word “nigger.”

A Tribe Called Quest’s first album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm...

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Journal of Musicology