Great Albums 1996: A Tribe Called Quest - Beats, Rhymes & Life

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July 30th 1996 A Tribe Called Quest releases "Beats, Rhymes & Life..........

July 1996 was  already a heavy month for hip-hop album releases, Nas had already dropped his second album "It Was Written" and De La Soul released their fourth album "Stakes Is High" De La fellow word smiths from Native Tongues. A Tribe Called Quest also released their fourth album called "Beats, Rhymes & Life. 

ATCQ came on another tip on this disc, coming off a hiatus from another classic album "Midnight Marauders" This time around Tribe, came with more a deeper perspective of the times they were living in, Some of the rhymes were more rougher that rhymes from their previous projects. The wordplay was there but it seemed they to be a little bit more aggressive then earlier albums.

Take the skit at the end of  "Jam", a group of young men coming from a party, drunk and high and one young man (Q-Tip) talks about always getting high when coming or going to a party and that it is time to find something new to do with his life.

And this theme continues through out the album into songs like "Crew" where the young man bugs out seeing his girl around another dude and spazzes out and than a shooting happens. This was a very different project from Tribe. There are some songs that has a frequent guest appearance from up and coming rapper at the time and also Q-Tip cousin name Consequence.

Consequence was heard before Phife on some songs, like "Motivation. Stressed Out, Mind Power and Jam". At one point it feels like Consequence is another member in ATCQ, He shined brightly on this album by tribe. On the album version of "Stressed Out feat Faith Evans" it was the Q-Tip & Cons show on this track and then on the radio edit and video version Phife verse shows up.

Phife played the back seat on most of the album where before it was rhymes back and forth from Phife and Q-Tip. The dynamic duo seemed less dynamic as they once was when it came to this album. Don't get me wrong, the rhymes was there but it seemed like less of a connection between the two rhymers. At times it felt like Phife was a third wheel or even a guest sometimes on BR&L.

The vibe on Beats showed that the group was moving in a different direction and seemed that solo adventures was in the mist. Three years later we saw the rise of Q-Tip as as a solo artist, with the production was handled by group members Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed and the late great J Dilla, they was known as the Ummah. The production did not disappoint well at least it didn't from my perspective. J Dilla sound was definite during this time period in hip hop.

Overall Beats, Rhymes and Life was still a good album in the collection from ATCQ, It fore shadowed of what was to come of the group future. The album only featured two singles from it, "1nce Again feat Tammy Lucas & Stresses Out'  That was the much of what was promoted from the group. Two years later in 1998 they released their last studio album "The Love Moment".  Sadly in early 2016  Phife passed away due to complications from diabetes.

There were whispers of a new A Tribe Called Quest album on the horizon, I hope that comes into fruition. One last project from one of my favorite hip-hop group and also the genre most influential group as well would be a treat.

In the meantime I'll Just keep Beats, Rhymes and Life will continue to play in the background until then see you next time........

From Spotify: A Tribe Called Quest - Beats Rhymes & Life:


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