Last week, A Tribe Called Quest and Sony Legacy dropped a special 25th anniversary edition of the group’s classic debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. The album was remastered from the original tapes by Grammy-winning engineer Bob Power, and re-released with exclusive new remixes by Pharrell Williams, J.Cole and CeeLo Green. The remastered People’s Instinctive Travels marks the first of a series of reissues by A Tribe Called Quest over the next few years.
New York City natives Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White first formed A Tribe Called Quest in 1985. The quartet is one of hip-hop’s most legendary, beloved, revered groups of all time. Easily recognized for their unique approach to hip-hop music—employing jazz-infused soundscapes and Afrocentric rhymes—ATCQ was largely responsible for the popularity of a new genre that dominated the East Coast sound of the early 1990s.
The group reunited with EBONY.com Arts & Culture Editor Miles Marshall Lewis (who chronicled the group’s breakup for The Source magazine in 1998) at Sirius XM to talk about their longstanding career.
EBONY: Is the sonic collage style of production on this album more difficult than creating music from scratch?
Q-Tip: That kind of collage sampling, it’s not easy. That sh*t is a lotta work. It depends on where you wanna take it. For us, our whole sh*t was just about sound, making that sh*t crack, making sure the rhymes was sharp. So it was a lot of knob turning, because we were really into the articulation. It’s not easy to do sample-based music. Because you still wanna align sh*t up. It just has to be in the right spots, the right places, the EQs. You gotta think about 4/4 [time], if it’s not in 4/4, if it’s in tune, what key it’s in. If it’s not in key, you gotta de-tune it, you gotta get the harmonizer, you gotta rent it from Dreamhire, which is in the same building as your record company where the studio is. Now they triple-dipping on you. Now you getting crazy, now you go get a bag of weed. The weed dealer laces it with dust, now you have a bad experience, you bug the fu*k out, everybody thinks you crazy… [laughter]
EBONY: Jarobi, tell us about Eats, Rhymes and Life. After People’s Instinctive Travels…, you went and became a chef.
Jarobi White: I’ve always been into cooking. Eats Rhymes and Life is an events company that I made, we do events. Like in New York right now, on Tuesday I have Taco Tuesday popping off. I do guest chef appearances, I’ve been in a lot of Food Network/Cooking Channel festivals, barbeques. All kinds of stuff.
EBONY: Phife, you have more cuts on The Low End Theory album than on the debut. Explain to the public why that is.
Phife Dawg: ’Cause I wasn’t focused. Running around, not doing the right thing. And if it wasn’t for them staying on me, who knows what would’ve happened. But all things happen for a reason.
For more of A Tribe Called Quest, click the video above!