Today is one of those days when I’m really glad I give each album several listens before I render my opinion. Not that I didn’t like “The Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest, but after several streams, I absolutely love it. Coming from the same sound and style as De La Soul, this “low-fi” groove of hip-hop is just so warm and lush to enjoy. “The Low End Theory” is rated as the #10 hip hop album of all time by definitivedose.com, and is the #43 rated album of all time on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Driven by the alternating vocals of Q-Tip, who appeared on “3 Feet High and Rising” from De La Soul, and Phife Dawg, who takes a larger role on this record. We also see the broader debut of Busta Rhymes, and the real secret sauce of this album is the bass playing of Ron Carter.
This record gets stronger as it flows. “Excursions” is a good start, but it gets better with “Buggin’ Out”. “Rap Promoter” opens with a Hendrix-like “Voodoo Chile” riff, and then the record really hits high gear with “Butter”, which is one of my two absolute favorites on this record. The next song is my other top pick, “Verses from the Abstract”, which borrows chords from “Am I the Same Girl”, made famous by Dusty Springfield, Barbara Acklin and Swing Out Sister among others. This song is just so smooth, it is impossible not to feel good when it comes on.
The rest of the album is just as funky and groovy, and it becomes more infectious with each trip back through it. “Check the Rhime” may have been the most recognizable track on the record, and it is a good one, but my other two favorites are probably “Everything is Fair”, with its 1960s funk chorus, and “Jazz (We’ve Got)” which beautifully embeds the chords from True by Spandau Ballet into the vibe.
What a remarkably great album, reminding me once again why you should never stop seeking new music in your life, even if the music isn’t really new at all.