Monday, June 18, 2007

ATCQ (Members)

The longtime MC with pioneering alternative hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest, rapper Q-Tip was born Jonathan Davis in New York City on November 20, 1970. While a student at the Murray Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, he co-founded A Tribe Called Quest with fellow students Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Phife (Malik Taylor) in 1988; the following year, Q-Tip guested on De La Soul's groundbreaking 3 Feet High and Rising LP, with the two groups forever linked through their association with the Native Tongues collective. Tribe's debut single, "Description of a Fool," appeared in the summer of 1989, and after signing to Jive Records, the trio issued their debut LP, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, a year later. With their fiercely intelligent, socially progressive lyrics and brilliant fusion of rap and jazz, the group emerged as one of the most popular and influential in all of hip-hop, producing such classic LPs as 1991's The Low End Theory and 1993's Midnight Marauders before disbanding in 1998. Q-Tip then mounted a solo career with the 1999 release of Amplified.
Just over a year after A Tribe Called Quest issued its final album, the group's nominal frontman Q-Tip issued his debut solo album, Amplified. For Tribe fans able to get over the fact that Q-Tip isn't trading off on rhymes with Phife Dog and Ali as usual, Amplified is an excellent work, almost up to the same level as the group's underrated final Jive album, The Love Movement. The sound here is very similar to The Love Movement, obviously no coincidence since production credits throughout go to Jay Dee and Q-Tip for the Ummah, the same combo that produced most of A Tribe Called Quest's material. It's a style that emphasizes deep grooves and clipped beats with a polished sheen that takes Tribe's jazz-rap into the age of quiet storm and fusion. Q-Tip's rapping is as smooth and inventive as ever, though it's a mild surprise that he doesn't include any message tracks (most Tribe albums have at least one or two). The band's breakup was a blow to hip-hop fans all over the world, but Amplified will make everyone feel much better.
A personal, unique project compared to Amplified (Q-Tip's first under his own name), Kamaal the Abstract fittingly sounds more like a solo album; whereas Amplified merely built on the digital soul of the last Tribe Called Quest album (The Love Movement), this one is wide-ranging and diverse, a relaxed, loose-limbed date. Q-Tip lays way back on these cuts, rapping in a quick, low monotone for the opener, "Feelin'," even while the song breaks into some restrained guitar grind on the choruses. Guitars, in fact, crop up all over this record. Setting aside comparisons to the contemporary record by N.E.R.D. (the rock side project of hip-hop super-producers Neptunes), Q-Tip crafted a record that pays homage to the last gasp of organically produced mainstream pop in the '70s and '80s, paying a large compliment to Prince and Stevie Wonder, even as he proves himself far more talented than D'Angelo (if not quite as soulful). The beats are pointed and clipped, to be expected on a Q-Tip record, but he allows plenty of space for the arrangements to speak, like the trim trumpet lines pacing "Even if It Is So" or allowing plenty of room for extended blowing from a flute on the warm, pastoral "Do You Dig You." The former is one of the best tracks here, Q-Tip introducing his story song with a fluid, ten-second speed-rap that says more about the plight of the single mother he adores than any other rapper could with an entire album. This wasn't the kind of record that lights up the charts — which could account for the reason it didn't appear on the shelves in late April 2002, as expected — but in many ways it's superior to the released Amplified.
Phife Dawg
As part of the pioneering rap group A Tribe Called Quest and its extended Native Tongues family, Phife Dawg helped to usher in a whole new style of intelligent hip-hop. Born Malik Taylor, Phife grew up in Queens, NY, where he spent his childhood writing poetry and eventually rapping at school and in his neighborhood whenever the opportunity was available. Along with high-school classmates Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife founded ATCQ, whose legendary decade-long career ended in 1998 with The Love Movement. The Atlanta-based Phife began flexing his new freedom in 1999 with Bend Ova, the first single with his new U.K.-based label, Groove Attack. A full-length titled Ventilation: Da LP, including appearances from Phife's alter ego, Mutty Ranks, was released the following year.

After A Tribe Called Quest culminated a decade of influence with The Love Movement, the group's loyalists immediately shifted gears, turning their attention to frontman Q-Tip's solo debut, Amplified, and delegating the group's oft-neglected member, Phife Dawg, back into a role he has become very accustomed to: second fiddle. Eager to step out of Q-Tip's shadow, Phife's solo debut, Ventilation, not only reveals his true musical ambitions but also the feelings he has repressed since the legendary group disassembled. Though the group's split was deemed amicable, "Flawless" suggests otherwise. Sending tremors through Tribe's sacred foundation, Phife spares the rod on the third group member, Ali, but questions his former partner's new "jiggy" image on "Flawless": "FUBU suit with Steve Madden boots make me wanna puke/Phat Farm shorts with a garter belt looking like a whore/or a purple bandanna cuz it matches your shaw." Though Phife's frivolous lyrical banter becomes monotonous for stretches, an esteemed production squad — Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, and Jay Dee — keeps Ventilation musically stimulating throughout. Phife sparks the most immediate chemistry with Hi-Tek on "D.R.U.G.S." and "Alphabet Soup," as his unassuming voice flourishes over the producer's minimal grooves. What Phife's solo debut lacks in execution, though, is compensated with intrigue. Other than a few aimless party cuts, such as "The Club Hoppa," Phife steers Ventilation on a fairly consistent course. One thing's for certain: After hearing Ventilation, Q-Tip will be wondering who let the Dawg off his leash.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Ali Shaheed Muhammad (born August 11, 1970, Brooklyn, New York) is an American hip-hop DJ who enjoyed moderate fame as a member of A Tribe Called Quest.
With Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, the group released five albums from 1990 to 1998.
After the group disbanded, Muhammad formed the R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl with refugees from En Vogue (Dawn Robinson) and Tony! Toni! Toné! (Raphael Saadiq), releasing one album in 2000. On October 12, 2004 he released his debut solo album, Shaheedullah and Stereotypes. He, Q-Tip and Phife have since announced plans to record a new album as A Tribe Called Quest.

Shaheedullah and Stereotypes (Oct 12, 2004: Garden Seeker)
The third and last Tribe Called Quest member to release a solo album, Ali Shaheed Muhammad not only had much to prove but also much to say compared to his former bandmates, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. As a strictly instrumental part of Tribe (mostly as a DJ, also as a producer), Muhammad never had a voice previously, and as a long-practicing Muslim, he obviously had a clear message to bring. Shaheedullah and Stereotypes balances his life as a Muslim and also an American, featuring a barrage of message tracks dealing with topics from education to race relations to love and family to spirituality, although he has guest vocalists to proclaim many of his points. (Not by coincidence, all of them are members of his Garden Seeker production company — Chip-Fu formerly of Fu-Schnickens, Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, Sy Smith, and Kay Jay.) Muhammad's productions are understated, most of them relying on the Tribe blueprint of fuzzy keys and pointed beats, but also including several songs with a full live band. The highlights — "Industry/Life" and "All Right (Aight)" featuring his own vocals, and "Put Me On" led by Williams — are pleasant R&B jams that spring out of simple riffs and meander about for several minutes before fading out. Nobody's blaming him for having rappers several cuts below his Tribe regulars, but Shaheedullah and Stereotypes is a troublesome record. With few clear targets and few hooks to spark an audience, Muhammad never produces a track half as kinetic or catchy as A Tribe Called Quest did on a regular basis.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Tribe Called Quest

Without question the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest jump-started and perfected the hip-hop alternative to hardcore and gangsta rap. In essence, they abandoned the macho posturing rap music had been constructed upon, and focused instead on abstract philosophy and message tracks. The "sucka MC" theme had never been completely ignored in hip-hop, but Tribe confronted numerous black issues — date rape, use of the word nigger, the trials and tribulations of the rap industry — all of which overpowered the occasional game of the dozens. Just as powerful musically, Quest built upon De La Soul`s jazz-rap revolution, basing tracks around laid-back samples instead of the played-out James Brown-fests which many rappers had made a cottage industry by the late '80s. Comprised of Q-Tip,Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Phife, A Tribe Called Quest debuted in 1989 and released their debut album one year later. Second album The Low End Theory was, quite simply, the most consistent and flowing hip-hop album ever recorded, though the trio moved closer to their harder contemporaries on 1993's Midnight Maraduers. A spot on the 1994 Lollapalooza Tour showed their influence with the alternative crowd — always a bedrock of A Tribe Called Quest's support — but the group kept it real on 1996's Beats,Rhymes and Life, a dedication to the streets and the hip-hop underground.A Tribe Called Quest was formed in 1988, though both Q-Tip (b. Jonathan Davis a.k.a Kamaal Ibn John Fareed) and Phife(b. Malik Taylor) had grown up together in Queens. Q-Tip met DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad while at high school and, after being named by The Jungle Brothers (who attended the same school), the trio began performing. A Tribe Called Quest's recording debut came in August 1989, when their single, "Description of a Fool," appeared on a tiny area label (though Q-Tip had previously guested on several tracks from De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising and later appeared on Deee-Lite's "Groove Is in the Heart").Signed to Jive Records by 1989, A Tribe Called Quest released their first album, People`s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, one year later. Much like De La Soul, Tribe looked more to jazz as well as '70s rock for their sample base — "Can I Kick It?" plundered Lou Reed`s classic "Walk on the Wild Side" and made it viable in a hip-hop context. No matter how solid their debut was, second album The Low End Theory outdid all expectations and has held up as perhaps the best hip-hop LP of all time. The Low End Theory had included several tracks with props to hip-hop friends, and A Tribe Called Quest cemented their support of the rap community with 1993's Midnight Marauders. The album cover and booklet insert included the faces of more than 50 rappers — including obvious choices such as De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers — as well as mild surprises like The Beastie Boys, Ice-T, and Heavy D. Though impossible to trump Low End`s brilliance, the LP offered several classics (including Tribe's most infectious single to date, "Award Tour") and a harder sound than the first two albums. During the summer of 1994, A Tribe Called Quest toured as the obligatory rap act on the Lollapalooza Festival lineup, and spent a quiet 1995, marked only by several production jobs for Q-Tip. Returning in 1996 with their fourth LP, Beats, Rhymes and Life, Tribe showed signs of wear; it was a good album, but proved less striking than The Low End Theory or Midnight Maraduers. While touring in support of 1998's The Love Movement, the group announced their impending breakup.

A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (Apr 17, 1990: Jive )
One year after De La Soul re-drew the map for alternative rap, fellow Native Tongues brothers A Tribe Called Quest released their debut, the quiet beginning of a revolution in non-commercial hip-hop. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm floated a few familiar hooks, but it wasn't a sampladelic record. Rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg dropped a few clunky rhymes, but their lyrics were packed with ideas, while their flow and interplay were among the most original in hip-hop. From the beginning, Tribe focused on intelligent message tracks but rarely sounded over-serious about them. With "Pubic Enemy," they put a humorous spin on the touchy subject of venereal disease (including a special award for the most inventive use of the classic "scratchin'" sample), and moved right into a love rap, "Bonita Applebum," which alternated a sitar sample with the type of jazzy keys often heard on later Tribe tracks. "Description of a Fool" took to task those with violent tendencies, while "Youthful Expression" spoke wisely of the power yet growing responsibility of teenagers. Next to important message tracks with great productions, A Tribe Called Quest could also be deliciously playful (or frustratingly unserious, depending on your opinion). "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" describes a vacation gone hilariously wrong, while "Ham 'n' Eggs" may be the oddest topic for a rap track ever heard up to that point ("I don't eat no ham and eggs, cuz they're high in cholesterol"). Contrary to the message in the track titles, the opener "Push It Along" and "Rhythm (Dedicated to the Art of Moving Butts)" were fusions of atmospheric samples with tough beats, special attention being paid to a pair of later Tribe sample favorites, jazz guitar and '70s fusion synth. Restless and ceaselessly imaginative, Tribe perhaps experimented too much on their debut, but they succeeded at much of it, certainly enough to show much promise as a new decade dawned.

A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory (Sep 24, 1991: Jive)
While most of the players in the jazz-rap movement never quite escaped the pasted-on qualities of their vintage samples, with The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest created one of the closest and most brilliant fusions of jazz atmosphere and hip-hop attitude ever recorded. The rapping by Q-Tip and Phife Dawg could be the smoothest of any rap record ever heard; the pair are so in tune with each other, they sound like flip sides of the same personality, fluidly trading off on rhymes, with the former earning his nickname (the Abstract) and Phife concerning himself with the more concrete issues of being young, gifted, and black. The trio also takes on the rap game with a pair of hard-hitting tracks: "Rap Promoter" and "Show Business," the latter a lyrical soundclash with Q-Tip and Phife plus Brand Nubian's Diamond D, Lord Jamar, and Sadat X. The woman problem gets investigated as well, on two realistic yet sensitive tracks, "Butter" and "The Infamous Date Rape." The productions behind these tracks aren't quite skeletal, but they're certainly not complex. Instead, Tribe weaves little more than a stand-up bass (sampled or, on one track, jazz luminary Ron Carter) and crisp, live-sounding drum programs with a few deftly placed samples or electric keyboards. It's a tribute to their unerring production sense that, with just those few tools, Tribe produced one of the best hip-hop albums in history, a record that sounds better with each listen. The Low End Theory is an unqualified success, the perfect marriage of intelligent, flowing raps to nuanced, groove-centered productions.

A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Maraduers (Nov 9, 1993: Jive)
Though the abstract rappers finally betrayed a few commercial ambitions for Midnight Marauders, the happy result was a smart, hooky record that may not have furthered the jazz-rap fusions of The Low End Theory, but did merge Tribe-style intelligence and reflection with some of the most inviting grooves heard on any early-'90s rap record. The productions, more funky than jazzy, were tighter overall — but the big improvement, four years after their debut, came with Q-Tip's and Phife Dawg's raps. Focused yet funky, polished but raw, the duo was practically telepathic on "Steve Biko (Stir It Up)" and "The Chase, Pt. 2," though the mammoth track here was the pop hit "Award Tour." A worldwide call-out record with a killer riff and a great pair of individual raps from the pair, it assured that Midnight Marauders would become A Tribe Called Quest's biggest seller. The album didn't feature as many topical tracks as Tribe was known for, though the group did include an excellent, sympathetic commentary on the question of that word ("Sucka Nigga," with a key phrase: "being as we use it as a term of endearment"). Most of the time, A Tribe Called Quest was indulging in impeccably produced, next-generation games of the dozens ("We Can Get Down," "Oh My God," "Lyrics to Go"), but also took the time to illustrate sensitivity and spirituality ("God Lives Through"). A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders was commercially successful, artistically adept, and lyrically inventive; the album cemented their status as alternative rap's prime sound merchants, authors of the most original style since The Bomb Squad first exploded on wax.

With each of its first three albums, A Tribe Called Quest seemed to be on its way to bigger and better things, artistically and commercially. Beats, Rhymes and Life promptly ended that streak and still ranks as the group's most disappointing listen. Amplifying the bare beats-and-bliss of The Low End Theory but erasing the hooks of Midnight Marauders, Beats, Rhymes and Life simply wasn't a compelling record. In fact, A Tribe Called Quest sounded bored through most of it — and, to put it bluntly, there wasn't much to get excited about either. Previously so invigorating and idea-driven, Q-Tip and Phife strutted through their verses, often sounding confused, hostile, and occasionally paranoid (check out the battle tracks, "Phony Rappers" and "Mind Power"). Meanwhile, the skeletal productions offered little incentive to decode the lyrics and messages, most of which were complex as expected. Though several other tracks had solid productions (like the spry, bass-driven backing to "Phony Rappers"), Beats, Rhymes and Life saw A Tribe Called Quest making its first (and only) significant misstep. (Constant touring off the success of Midnight Marauders may have been a factor.) Yes, they were still much better than the vast majority of alternative rappers, but it seemed they'd lost their power to excite. One of the few successes was a surprising R&B crossover called "1nce Again" (featuring Tammy Lucas).
A Tribe Called Quest - The Love Movement (Sep 29, 1998: Jive)
Continuing with the subdued, mature stylistic flow of Beats, Rhymes and Life, The Love Movement, the fifth album from A Tribe Called Quest, is the group's subtlest album yet — which may just be a polite way for saying it's a little monotonous. Throughout the record, Tribe mines the same jazz-flavored, R&B-fueled beats that were the hallmark of Beats. Although the "love" concept provides a thematic cohesion to the album — almost all of the songs are about love, in one way or another — the overall effect is quite similar to its immediate predecessor: the music is enthralling for a while, but soon it all sounds a little too familiar. Part of the problem is that Tribe functions on a cerebral level, a point made painfully clear by Busta Rhymes' and Redman's roaring, visceral cameos on "Steppin' It Up." On their own, Tribe favors craft over raw skills. That means there are plenty of pleasures to be had from careful listening, but Tribe has reached a point where it's easier to admire the Ummah's stylish production and the subtle rhymes of Q-Tip, Phife, and Ali Shaheed than it is to outright love them, which is ironic for an album bearing the title The Love Movement.

A Tribe Called Quest - The Love Movement (Bonus CD)
A Tribe Called Quest - Revised Quest for the Seasoned Traveler (1994: Jive)
As the years go by, the number of obnoxious remix collections multiplies faster than a tribble. The dance contingent is the worst criminal of this exercise, whereas the farthest hip-hop groups usually stray is by releasing "instrumental" versions of their albums. Thankfully, Revised Quest for the Seasoned Traveler is a refreshing exception to both such workmanlike rules. Fans will notice something pleasant right off the bat: The majority of the remixes on this compilation are actually done by the band themselves. So you get the rather faithful re-take of "Description of a Fool" by A Tribe Called Quest (and The Jungle Brothers), "Public Enemy" in a more club-friendly environment, and even the smiley "Bonita Applebum" turned into a fun piece of Top 40 cheese. It's most of the third-party perspectives that should be passed over (the simplistic house of Tom & Jerry's "Luck of Lucien" remix is as predictable as it sounds). Which means only a couple of these outsiders go much above and beyond the call of remix duty. The "Boilerhouse Mix" of "Can I Kick It?" adds a layer of dark solidity to the Lou Reed-sampling classic while Norman Cock (in his pre-Fatboy Slim days) does a fiesta, horn-blaring reggae take on "I Left My Walled in El Segundo." Both of these are unique — and tasteful — remixes done of such Tribe favorites. So generally, the quality is quite high here compared to what one may expect from cobbled-together remix albums. It's half-way personal, half-way engaging. Revised Quest for the Seasoned Traveler is a treat for both hardcore fans as well as those listeners curious enough as to how to properly compile a hip-hop remix collection. Especially without the tribbles.

A Tribe Called Quest - Anthology (Oct 26, 1999: Jive)
For those who haven't discovered that A Tribe Called Quest made several of the best LPs in hip-hop history, Anthology is a perfect way to encapsulate the trio's decade-long career into one manageable portion. All of their best and biggest songs are here, from the early neglected joint "Luck of Lucien" to classic jazz-rap from The Low End Theory like "Jazz (We've Got)," and their 45-rpm peak with "Award Tour," all the way to their last big hit, "Find a Way," from 1998's The Love Movement. Yes, anyone who enjoys hip-hop needs to own at least Midnight Marauders and The Low End Theory, but Anthology succeeds in delivering all the highest points from a great hip-hop group's career. The collection also includes the first solo track from Q-Tip, 1999's "Vivrant Thing."

A Tribe Called Quest - Anthology (Bonus CD)

Unquestionably one of the most influential acts in the history of hip-hop, the Tribe left behind them a legacy few could contend with and most have revered since their debut release. And while Hits, Rarities & Remixes is not as thorough a compilation as 1999's Anthology, it does offer highly sought-after tracks that are out of print, including a few that were featured exclusively on movie soundtracks. A good number of the crowd-favorite anthems that made Tribe one of the most adored groups of its time are featured here, and a few that were secret weapons in many a DJ crate during their initial release. What separates this collection from the earlier anthology is its ability to function as a comprehensive road map through the group's career for the inquisitive first-timer as well as offer up obscure tracks for the die-hard beat heads. And while serious fanatics will already have all of these releases on CD, it's well worth the purchase price to have them all in one place.
2 be continued...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

KRS-One & Marley Marl - Hip Hop Lives

Label..........: Koch
Source.........: CDDA
Genre..........: Hip-Hop
Size...........: 54,5 MB
Rip Date.......: May-17-2007
Release Date...: May-22-2007
Quality........: LAME 3.97 V2

01. It's Alive (Intro) 00:40
02. Hip Hop Lives 02:53
03. Nothing New 03:17
04. I Was There 03:48
05. Musika (feat. Magic Juan) 04:05
06. Rising To The Top 03:30
07. Over 30 03:53
08. M.A.R.L.E.Y. (Skit) 01:30
09. Kill A Rapper 02:57
10. The Teacha's Back 03:42
11. The Victory (feat. Blaq Poet) 03:48
12. This Is What It Is 03:52
13. All Skool 04:06
14. House Of hits (feat. Chief Rocker Busy Bee) 04:32

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rapaholic™ Presents Exclusive: Styles P - The Ghost Sessions

Styles P - The Ghost Sessions
Label..........: Streetcore
Source.........: CDDA
Genre..........: Rap
Size...........: 64,2 MB
Rip Date.......: May-17-2007
Release Date...: May-22-2007
Quality........: LAME 3.97 V2

01. The Hardest (feat. AZ) (prod. by Large Professor) 03:42
02. Fuck The Police (prod. by Street Radio) 02:53
03. No Remorse (feat. J-Hood) (prod. by Street Radio) 02:51
04. Come One, Come All (feat. Kool G Rap) 03:10
05. Hold On (feat. Jay Rush) (prod. by Fizzy Womack) 04:06
06. Frustration (prod. by Street Radio) 02:11
07. Pain (prod. by J. Waxx Garfield) 03:40
08. The Struggle (prod. by Large Professor) 03:28
09. Poor Folk (feat. Joell Ortiz) (prod. by Street Radio) 03:12
10. The Lessons (prod. by Street Radio & Bob Perry) 03:22
11. Use Mad Clips (feat. Cormega) (prod. by Emile) 03:02
12. Deeper Than Most (prod. by Street Radio) 03:23
13. S.P. Ghost (Bonus) (prod. by Ill Will Fulton) 03:44
14. Come One, Come All (feat. Ill Bill) 04:15
15. So Easily (prod. by Ill Will Fulton) 03:33

Rapaholic™ Presents Exclusive: Canibus - For Whom The Beat Tolls (2007)

Label..........: Koch ENT.
Source.........: CDDA
Genre..........: Rap
Size...........: 79,7 MB
Rip Date.......: 06-04-2007
Release Date...: 06-12-2007
Quality........: LAME 3.97 V2
01. For Whom The Beat Tolls 02:13
02. Harbinger Of Light 03:23
03. Poet Laureate Infinity V003 11:07
04. Liquid Wordz (Feat. Sun & Killah Priest) 04:24
05. Father Author, Poor Pauper 03:27
06. Dreamzzzzz 04:56
07. Magnum Innominandum 03:01
08. Layered Prayers 02:34
09. The Fusion Centre (Feat. Vinnie Paz) 02:27
10. 702-386-5397 04:06
11. The Goetia 03:09
12. Secrets Amongst Cosmonauts 04:30
13. One Ought Not To Think 02:23
14. Javelin Fangz 04:15
15. There Has He Been (Feat. K-Solo) 02:47
16. Poet Laureate Infinity V004 11:34

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present Exclusive: Talib Kweli - Ear Drum (Advance)

01 02:49 Everything Man
02 04:36 NY Weather
03 05:54 Hostile
04 03:41 Say
05 04:31 Country
06 02:12 Holy
07 03:08 Eat To
08 03:43 In The
09 04:01 Soon The New
10 04:42
11 04:17
12 04:40 More Or
13 03:50 The Perfect
14 03:49 Hot
15 04:19 Oh My
16 03:28 Listen