Title: “Midnight Marauders”
Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
Release date: November 1993
Favorite track: “Award Tour”
Seven times out of 10, we listen to our music at night, thus spawned the title of this program. The word “maraud” means to loot. In this case, we maraud for ears.
I feel chills when I hear the robotic female voice read this passage at the end of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour,” my favorite track on “Midnight Marauders.” The album features the digitized voice of Laurel Dann, an employee of Jive Records, as a tour guide throughout.
There is no question about it. A Tribe Called Quest is my favorite hip-hop group, go-to driving music and least embarrassing fandom. Its third studio album, “Midnight Marauders,” features some of the group’s best work.
I’ve previously featured the greatest hits compilation, “The Anthology,” in my column. I said if I could take only 10 records to an island, “The Anthology” would be one of them. Still applies. Several of the songs from that compilation are on “Midnight Marauders.”
A Tribe Called Quest consists of four members, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Q-Tip and Jarobe. A-E-I-O-U and sometimes Y.
— “We Can Get Down”
ATCQ is the most legendary hip-hop collective and undoubtedly the most intelligent and creative hip-hop group in the 1990s.
Q-Tip and Phife Dawg (may he RIP) are the PB&J of rap. Together, they seamlessly address social issues while having fun. Don’t even get me started on the beats, which have that tinge of funk you know I crave.
Like I did with “The Anthology,” I’ll share my favorite lyrics from “Midnight Marauders."
The Five-Foot Assassin knocking fleas off his collar
Hip hop scholar since being knee high to a duck
The height of Muggsy Bogues, complexion of a hockey puck
— (Steve Biko) Stir it Up
I’m vertically challenged, so I dig Phife Dawg’s reference to Bogues. At 5’3", Bogues was the shortest player to ever play in the NBA. Phife Dawg was also 5’3".
Street poetry is my everyday
But yo, I gotta stop when you trot my way
If I was working at the club you would not pay
— “Electric Relaxation”
I love putting my iPhone on shuffle, then hearing the first few seconds of “Electric Relaxation.” It’s one of the first ATCQ songs I ever heard. It’s sexy, funny and cool.
Stepping on my critics, beating on my foes
The plan is to stay focused, only then I can grow
Straight from the heart, I represent hip hop
I be three albums deep, but I don’t wanna go pop
— “We Can Get Down”
These lyrics remind me of the song “Check the Rhime” from the band’s second studio album, “The Low End Theory.” Side note: If I say a line to that song, don't let it go unanswered.
For example, if I throw down a little something like, “Rap is not pop,” you reply, “If you call it that, then stop.” If I say, “You on point, Tip?” you reply, “All the time, Phife.”
You feel me? Cool.
And if I ever went solo my favorite MC would be me
— “Clap Your Hands”
Confidence and originality ooze from every ATCQ song.
This album went platinum. In the words of Busta Rhymes — who’s featured on “Oh My God” — if you don’t know, now you know.
The album cover displays a woman painted in Afrocentric colors, similarly to the album covers for “The Low End Theory” and "The Anthology.”
The front and back feature photos of the heads of many hip-hop musicians and radio DJs wearing headphones and often hats. It's fun checking out their different silly and serious facial expressions.
Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.