A Tribe Called Quest's 'Beats, Rhymes, And Life'
'The Low-End Theory' was really the first hip-hop record I ever got into. I'm sure that is the case with many white hip-hop fans as that album just kind of oozes of reserved yet intelligent lyrics and imaginative yet restrained beats. I think it is an easy candidate for hip-hop record of the '90s and in general can still inspire the same feelings that it did when I was younger these days. My exposure to 'Beats, Rhymes, And Life' came much later in my life. I'm glad for that. When I was getting into 'The Low-End Theory' I grabbed 'Midnight Marauders' and was often disappointed with the lack of continuity throughout that record. While I've certainly warmed up to 'Midnight Marauders' over the years it still strikes me as a somewhat half baked affair. A Tribe Called Quest was attempting to create more sophisticated beats on that record, but their lyrical style had not changed very much at that point. 'Beats, Rhymes, And Life' is in my eyes a far more successful record. The lyrics have grown darker and more diverse whether it be due to the climate of hip-hop in '96 or due to the personal rifts throughout the group. J Dilla makes one of his first appearances here in the form of the Ummah who provide all the beats throughout the record. Q-Tip's cousin Consequence is featured on numerous tracks and in general this totally revitalizes the Tribe sound without coming off cheap or forced. The beats are as cleaned as Pete Rock's and the undeniable x-factor throughout the record is Dilla's passionate affair with bass lines which he clearly began here. Truly a underrated classic amongst hip-hop fans.