10 Essential Songs by Members of A Tribe Called Quest
With the very recent release of their sixth (and final) album We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, seminal hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest have pulled off a rare feat in hip hop – dropping a record nearly 20 years after its predecessor to instantaneous and palatable anticipation from fans and critics alike. And though the world has definitely felt their absence since their last album (1998’s The Love Movement), it’s not as though things have been totally quiet on the Tribal front. Here are ten of the best songs A Tribe Called Quest’s members have released in the gap between their last album and this new one.
1) Lucy Pearl – “Dance Tonight”
After ATCQ’s split, the group’s DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad formed supergroup Lucy Pearl with Raphael Saadiq and Dawn Robinson from En Vogue. “Dance Tonight” was the lead single from the group’s sole album in 2000.
2) Busta Rhymes – “You Can’t Hold the Torch”
After making his mark on the world with a guest spot on Tribe’s Scenario, Busta Rhymes has held an honorary title as an extended member of the group. On his 2006 album The Big Bang, Q-Tip collaborated with the emcee on this J Dilla produced track that pays homage to the classic Tribe sound.
3) Q-Tip – “Vivrant Thing”
Though many were at first shocked by the more contemporary and slick sound of Q-Tip’s first solo album Amplified in 1999, hindsight shows us that – like its lead single “Vivrant Thing” – the album is a fun and hard-hitting follow-up to Tribe’s legacy.
4) Phife Dawg – “Dear Dilla”
A heartfelt tribute to frequent collaborator and hip hop’s unsung production hero J Dilla, this single by Tribe’s Five Foot Assassin hits a little close to home, especially considering that his own passing would occur just two years later.
5) A Tribe Called Quest – “ICU (Doin’ It)”
Released in 2003 and featuring Erykah Badu on the hook, this Tribe song was allegedly slated for inclusion on a Violator compilation that never came to be. Fans rabidly wondered if this track signified a reunion.
6) Ali Shaheed Muhammad – “CPR”
Created as a response to Eric Garner’s murder by police in 2014, “CPR” features vocal contributions by JaPoet, David Luke, and Merna. The song stands as a fitting soundtrack to the #BlackLivesMatter era.
7) Q-Tip – “Move”
Q-Tip’s second officially released solo album The Renaissance (2008) was considered a return to form in terms of rekindling the classic sounds of ATCQ, and one of its highlights was the single “Move,” featuring deft sample-based production from the then-recently deceased J Dilla.
8) Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes – “Thank You”
As the lead single from 2013’s collaborative mixtape The Abstract and The Dragon, “Thank You” also featured guest vocals from Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne.
9) Q-Tip – “Do You Dig U?”
Part of Q-Tip’s reticence post-Tribe was his entanglement in record label politics and shelved projects. Kamaal The Abstract was slated to be his second album, but execs told him that its experimental slant was too far-left for audiences. When the record was finally given an official release in 2009, audiences were able to hear a different side of the Tribe frontman for the first time.
10) Phife Dawg “Nutshell”
Posthumously released after his death earlier this year, Phife Dawg’s “Nutshell” proves that the rapper hadn’t lost a step.
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