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March 31, 1994 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-31

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 31, 1994
Testing longevity, Tribe Called Quest goes for number three

By DUSTIN HOWES
Third time at bat, A Tribe Called
Quest have hit their third home run.
But for the band this is only the first
inning of a never ending game. The
broader musical picture is in focus;
they are attempting an ongoing quest
for unity and musical consistency. As
Q-Tip said, "music is eternal ... we
can just keep addin' on to that ...
different expressions, different types
of things (on) each album, you know?"
Someone knows, because
someone is listening. The group's third
album "Midnight Marauders" debuted
at number one on Billboard's R&B
chart, was ranked second in the nation
on major college radio station play
lists and has no one disappointed
after their almost platinum "Low End
Theory" and their influential
"People's Instinctive Travels and the
Paths of Rhythm." But these stats are
not part of the Quest, at least on a
personal level; when asked if they
know how the new album is doing
they replied, "It's going pretty well"
- they are not busy tracking the
charts.
In fact, while certainly aware of
their audience, the group's endeavors
are highly personal. "We give a basic
blueprint for who we are as people,
through our music," said Tip. And
this notion is not constrained to what
Phife and Q-Tip literally say on wax,
to which the new album's deep, soulful
jazz testifies. There is no doubt that
the music - sample manipulation,
clean special effects and a few

scratches - support the feelings
expressed verbally.
Indeed the Tribe attempts to make
the music and the aura of a song
supersede the particular lyrical flow.
Q-Tip said of "Steve Biko (Stir It
Up)", the opening jam on
"Marauders," "A lot of people is
bullshittin', Steve Biko was a person
of revolution, and really settin' it, you
knowumsayin', so everybody's talkin'
about how they live and I thought that
he's the livest motha, but we ain't
A Tribe Called Quest
have hit their third
home run. But for the
band, this is only the
first inning of a
neverending game.
actually write no rhymes about him
'cause we want people to use they
minds to find out who he was."
While the personalities of Q-Tip
and Phife (and perhaps Mr. Muhamed,
as known through his cuts and the
musical element) are overwhelming
on the musical landscape, the group is
not isolated. They are perhaps most
responsible for the birth, or evolution,
of the jazz/rap connection.
Songs like "Bonita Applebum"
and "Footprints" on "People's
Instinctive Travels" were new not
strictly in their use of jazz (in fact
many groups had used jazz from

Stetsasonic to Big Daddy Kane), but
also in the burgeoning hip-hop styles
and jazz tradition - melded into
something which could not be broken
down into either genre. It defied
categorization; it was their own
original blend.
Since then, a lot of folks have set
up shop and labeled themselves (or
have been labeled) the "acid jazz"
movement. Digable Planets has come
closest to the Tribe flavor, but have
added a few delectable spices of their
own.
Artists all over the world (like
Ronnie Jordan, Great Britain, Greg
Osby, USA and The United Future
Organization, Japan) have journeyed
along the "Paths of Rhythm" with a
decidedly jazz-oriented perspective,
and projects like US3 and Guru's
"Jazzamatazz" have made inroads on
the commercial front while simulta-
neously revealing the group spirit of
the phenomena. US3 hooked up with
the Blue Note people, while Guru
pulled together people like Donald
Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith, Branford
Marsalis and Ronnie Jordan.
It seems that the scene has fol-
lowed something laid down on Tribe's
"Youthful Expression" when
Muhamed says, "If you want to get
the rhythm, then you've got to join a
tribe." When asked about a couple of
the new jazz/hip-hop projects, Q-Tip
said, "Those are good."
So from their lyrics, "Blackpeople
unite and put down your steal" (from
"We Can Get Down" on

0

A Tribe Called Quest's most recent album ("Midnight Marauders") debuted at n

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"Marauders"), to the consistency of
their albums, to their attempt at "a
blueprint" for who they are, the Tribe
is about mental and musical harmony.
When asked to compare their
albums, Q-Tip neglected to do so,
saying, "I know a lot of people have
problems with (that), comparing one
thing to the next, 'cause that's just the
way that this system and this society
brought us up." They refuse to drive
words between their own music, just
as they refuse to put themselves in the
"jazz/hip-hop" category while
simultaneously embracing the artists
associated with it.
The theme of unity is reflected in
more than the words and music of
Tribe; it is reflected in how they use
words. When asked if Jarobi, a

member of Tribe whose role was un-
specified but whose picture was no-
ticeably absent from press photos on
"Low End" and "Marauders," Phife
said, "Jarobi's our friend. Family."
Even when asked to comment on a
genre that seems to be antithetical to
Tribe's success - the emergence of
gangster rap, the enormous sales of
Snoop Doggy Dog and the pull away
from the kind of reflective artistry of
groups like Tribe - there is a
resistance to critical judgment. Q-Tip
said, "People just got they own thing
... got to do what they got to do; that's
basically it. You can't really explain
that shit, that's just they way of the
world. We want to just accept reality
and just deal with it. We know we
ain't never gonna be, like, large like

umber one on Billboard's R&B chart.
that, you know? But, wejust try to do
our music, man."
A sense of historical perspective
keeps Tribe from dissing Snoop;
knowing that music is an eternal game
allows Tribe to focus on playing well
instead of winning. "We still have a
couple a more albums to go. We're
just babies tome and I don't even look
at it like that, I look at it like each
album's our first one," said Tip.
According to Muhamed, in action
and in words, the message they want 1
to get across is "Simply, yo, Tribejust
wants people out there to unify; and
just think about the shit that they
doin'." Reflected lyrically, musically
and personally, the Tribe is unified
and should be slammin' 'em out of
the park for years to come.

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Band's delivery provides welcome change

WHIGS
Continued from page 3
band. He's the main songwriter, the
lead vocalist, the rhythm guitarist and
the former manager (back when times
weren't as good). Dulli enjoys his
role as navigator. That his music serves

as emotional release is evident in the
contrast between the Whigs' often
morbid, isolated music and Dulli's
jovial nature.
The lyrical content of the music
distinguishes the band. The lyrics on
"Gentlemen" are a colorful collection
of stories about sexual relationships.
"The lyrics, like anything in life, are

i

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801 SOUTH FOREST (AT HILL)
ANN ARBOR, MI 48104
(313) 668.7622

truth mixed in with lies." The direct-
ness of the sexual material sometimes
smacks you over the head. For ex-
ample, on "Gentlemen," Dulli sings
"I stayed in too long, but she was a
perfect fit." Although he is some-
times explicit ("She wants love and I
just want to fuck"), his emotional
delivery has a profundity sadly lack-
modern music.
the last time the Afghan Whigs
played Detroit, Motown star Martha
Reeves made a memorable appear-
ance with the band. Similar fireworks
may occur this time around. This may
be your last chance to see this rising
star in a small venue.
THE AFGHAN WHIGS will be at
St. Andrew's tonight. Tickets are
$9.50. Call (313)961-MELT.

HOLY WEEK EVENTS AT LORD OF LIGHT

Thursdav, March 31
Friday, April 1
Saturdav, April 2
Sunday. April 3

6 P.M.. A Feast Celebrated in
Commemoration of the Last Supper
7 P.M., Maundy Thursday Worship Service
7 P.M.,. Good Friday Worship Service with
Campus Chapel, 1236 Washtenaw Ct.
Noon Lunch and Pysanky Easter Egg
Workshop
11 P.M., Easter Vigil
10 A.M., Easter Day Worship Service -ith
Brunch Following

Correction
The clothing which was featured
in the centerfold of the Spring
Fasion issue went uncredited. The
clothing was provided by Banana
Republic and Bivouac

0i

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