Last week we had the unfortunate news that Phife Dawg had passed away. So as a tribute, this weeks Anniversary Album is A Tribe Called Quest’s debut “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”.
Released on April 10, 1990, Tribe’s debut celebrated 25 years last year with a special 25th anniversary re-release. Meanwhile, in twelve days it will turn 26.
This album’s sound held true to the style of hip hop coming out of the East Coast at the time. This took the form of jazz rap, or alternative hip hop with groups such as De La Soul and Gang Starr working with jazz samples and placing a strong emphasis on beats and at times complex production. In Tribes case this was thanks to the production talents of Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
As well as this, In an age dominated by both gangsta rap and politically charged rap, this album had more of a loose feel to it, with the beats enabling the listener to groove and boogie along to the record. This quickly became a large part of Tribe’s appeal, especially as a counter to groups such as NWA and Public Enemy.
It was also on this album that the duo of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg developed a strong partnership vocally, playing off each other lyrically as seen on tracks such as Can I Kick It and Luck Of Lucian. This was quite a playful, less serious approach to rapping which at times involved little injections of humor.
People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was well-received critically but failed to branch out into the mainstream, or gain much commercial success. However, it did give the group a following in the underground hip hop community and built their reputation as an up and coming hip hop act.
It was also this album that enshrined Tribe as a pioneering alternative hip hop group, paving the way for future hip hop acts to follow. The group would also build on this first up effort, with the classic and universally acclaimed follow up Low End Theory. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm’s place in hip hop history remains strong to this day, with magazine The Source placing it in their list of the top 100 hip hop albums.