Episode 36: A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest

CW: Homophobia, mention of r*pe

We’re mid-way through the first month of 2018, and already we’re beset with strife on all sides. At times like these, we must ask ourselves the eternal question: can we kick it? To find our answer, we’re going on a leader quest mission with Max’s all-time favorite hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest. Like most journeys, this one starts all sunshine and roses and De La Soul shout-outs—but the ending may surprise you.

Started in 1985 by teenage MC’s Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi, as well as DJ-turned-NPR host Ali Shaheed Muhammed, A Tribe Called Quest quickly made a name for themselves as positive jammers with a relentlessly innovative aesthetic. Over the course of their first five albums they would pioneer a (mostly) progressive lyricism, bring jazz to the hip-hop world, and team up with a little-known producer named J Dilla to create some of the weirdest albums of the era. It’s that latter fact that makes them such perfect candidates for the island—they were one of the few rap acts at the time that were truly album-focused, creating complete and deliberate artistic works that defied cherry-picking, even as they wrote a string of iconic singles that still influence artists. And after all that, after an 18 year hiatus and the death of Phife Dawg, they come back with one of their best albums. Who does that?

A Tribe Called Quest is one of those bands that made us remember why we love doing this show, and that plus a rather strict time crunch has produced an episode as tight, shining, and artificially inflated in value as a diamond. Also: Max hears Langoliers on the wind, Andrew reveals the kinky undertones of Moby Dick, and we discuss duck penises. Again.

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