A Tribe Called Quest
Beats, Rhymes And Life


4.0
excellent

Review

by GeorgeNelson USER (21 Reviews)
January 26th, 2013 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Nowadays I strive to be a very good influence, even though not too long ago I was a truant." - Q-Tip

‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ is aptly named: it’s a simple formula, but it works. 1993 was huge for the tribe: ‘Midnight Marauders’ was released to rave reviews – John Bush (allmusic) wrote that “the album cemented their status as alternative rap’s prime sound merchants”. So, this next move was difficult for ATCQ; disappointment tends to follow a commercial and critical peak. This album isn’t perfect (and is certainly underrated), but it does exhibit the loveable boastfulness that makes the tribe so appealing.

What’s really exceptional here is the attitude of the two MCs (Q-Tip and Phife Dawg). Tribe sustain the charisma that spans their music: they’re adamant it’s cool to be responsible, and they’re pretty convincing. The trio is boisterous while sticking to their good-guys image. They exude energy and confidence, but this makes their social commentary digestible rather than shrouding its seriousness. Their self-belief carries them – we want to side with the good guys; that they’re still cool makes them refreshing, an alternative to the East vs. West, domineering gangsta rap that surrounded them. On ‘The Pressure’ Phife Dawg rhymes:

“Now every dog has its day but eff that, it’s my year,
All you gat pullin’ MCs could never come near”

A Tribe Called Quest aren’t arrogant; their spirit is their charm. On ‘Keep It Movin’ Q-Tip announces:

“Let me let ya’ll brothers know I ain’t no West Coast disser,
Another thing I’m not is a damn ass kisser.”

The two MCs have unsurpassed chemistry, and bounce rhymes off one another in tag-team fashion. Q-Tip’s delivery is mellow and smooth, but compatible with Phife’s edge and the two infiltrate and ride their backing tracks wholly. This is a simplistic but successful balance of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, conceivably because ‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ is produced by ‘The Ummah’ – a collective including Q-Tip. The production here is head-nodding and funky, if tinted with a slight darkness. While highlights give the album its thrust – ‘The Pressure’ is particularly powerful – there is little stylistic evolution. The jazz-hop that hit perfect rhythm on ‘Midnight Marauders’ is toned down, if anything. The J-dilla footprints that replace it are less interesting.

It might seem an oxy-moron, but swaggering humility is enjoyable across the record - the rappers are unconventional, but have style here. It’s this that gives ‘Beats, Rhymes and Life’ its appeal.



Recent reviews by this author
Arctic Monkeys AMDe La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising
Ramones RamonesThe Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die
Rihanna UnapologeticPrince Sign o' the Times
user ratings (271)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2013


4501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a pretty good review. This is one of the hip-hop groups that I can honestly say I love, so it's nice to see them getting reviewed. Your write-up was good, though I feel like you could have said a bit more about the songs than just a quick blurb on a few tracks. But you did give a pretty good description of the album, so nice job.



POS'd.

Chrisjon89
January 26th 2013


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty good review man. I love Get A Hold. Simple sample but really awesome.

GeorgeNelson
January 27th 2013


45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers guys, and PaperbackWriter I'll bear that in mind for my next write up. I think ATCQ are wicked! and yeah thinking about it Get A Hold was a cool, new sound for them, so maybe I should have talked about that.



Any other comments or criticism?

oltnabrick
January 27th 2013


35835 Comments


I can't believe this did'nt have a review

GeorgeNelson
January 27th 2013


45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah neither could I!

Chrisjon89
January 31st 2013


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think Consequence.

oltnabrick
January 31st 2013


35835 Comments


they've got better albums but this is still solid.

GeorgeNelson
February 1st 2013


45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah it's not their best, but it's still underrated

ronburgandy
June 8th 2013


272 Comments


ajskd

ronburgandy
June 8th 2013


272 Comments


ajskd

LambsBread
December 3rd 2013


6524 Comments


I beez a veteran MC, crushin crews for years
You frontin hard, but you softer than the Berenstain Bears

YEAH

LambsBread
March 21st 2014


6524 Comments


this is their best album idk how this has one review and is rated so low : (

HalfManHalfAmazing
December 4th 2014


1837 Comments


don't get me wrong i like this one but i don't think it is even close to their best

LambsBread
December 4th 2014


6524 Comments


softer than the Berenstain Bears

theNateman
December 27th 2016


2838 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This slaps. Stressed out is my fave tribe song tbh

Digging: Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy