Low End Theory

The Low End Theory

5.0 6
by A Tribe Called Quest

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On their debut recording, People's Instinctive Travels on the Paths of Rhythm, A Tribe Called Quest created a magical mystery tour through hip-hop psychedelia. On The Low End Theory, they settle down to probe the inner workings of hip-hop and their role within it. Musically, the album is well known for its innovative merging of jazz bass lines (some


On their debut recording, People's Instinctive Travels on the Paths of Rhythm, A Tribe Called Quest created a magical mystery tour through hip-hop psychedelia. On The Low End Theory, they settle down to probe the inner workings of hip-hop and their role within it. Musically, the album is well known for its innovative merging of jazz bass lines (some supplied by legendary bassist Ron Carter) with hip-hop beats, but the real breakthrough is in the way Q-Tip, Phife Dog, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad work their lyrical flow around this atypical hip-hop rhythm section. Primary rapper Tip tackles complicated issues on "The Infamous Date Rape" and "Excursions," while he and his colleagues play with pointed humor on "Rap Promoter," "Buggin' Out," and "Skypager." The trio cuts loose with some old-school freestylin' on "Scenario," also featuring Leaders of the New School (yes, that's Busta Rhymes and his old pals). Offering introspection, range, and imagination, The Low End Theory is one of the best hip-hop records ever.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
While most of the players in the jazz-rap movement never quite escaped the pasted-on qualities of their vintage samples, with The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest created one of the closest and most brilliant fusions of jazz atmosphere and hip-hop attitude ever recorded. The rapping by Q-Tip and Phife Dawg could be the smoothest of any rap record ever heard; the pair are so in tune with each other, they sound like flip sides of the same personality, fluidly trading off on rhymes, with the former earning his nickname (the Abstract) and Phife concerning himself with the more concrete issues of being young, gifted, and black. The trio also takes on the rap game with a pair of hard-hitting tracks: "Rap Promoter" and "Show Business," the latter a lyrical soundclash with Q-Tip and Phife plus Brand Nubian's Diamond D, Lord Jamar, and Sadat X. The woman problem gets investigated as well, on two realistic yet sensitive tracks, "Butter" and "The Infamous Date Rape." The productions behind these tracks aren't quite skeletal, but they're certainly not complex. Instead, Tribe weaves little more than a stand-up bass (sampled or, on one track, jazz luminary Ron Carter) and crisp, live-sounding drum programs with a few deftly placed samples or electric keyboards. It's a tribute to their unerring production sense that, with just those few tools, Tribe produced one of the best hip-hop albums in history, a record that sounds better with each listen. The Low End Theory is an unqualified success, the perfect marriage of intelligent, flowing raps to nuanced, groove-centered productions.

Product Details

Release Date:


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tribe Called Quest   Primary Artist
Ron Carter   Bass
Ali Shaheed Muhammad   DJ
Q-Tip   Vocals
Phife Dawg   Vocals

Technical Credits

Alan Gorrie   Composer
Tribe Called Quest   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Skeff Anselm   Producer
Roger Ball   Composer
Busta Rhymes   Contributor
Pete Christensen   Engineer
Diamond D   Contributor
Malcolm Duncan   Composer
Steve Ferrone   Composer
Eric Gast   Engineer
Rod Hui   Engineer
Gerard Julien   Engineer
Tim Latham   Engineer
Ali Shaheed Muhammad   Composer
Bob Power   Engineer
Anthony Saunders   Engineer
Christopher Shaw   Engineer
Trevor Smith   Composer
Jamey Staub   Engineer
Bryan Higgins   Composer
J. Taylor   Composer
Owen McIntyre   Composer
Sadat   Contributor
Jamar   Contributor
Jim Kvoriac   Engineer
Dan Wood   Engineer
Dinco D.   Contributor
Marc Singleton   Engineer
Malik Taylor   Composer
James Jackson   Composer
Jonathan Davis   Composer
Jame Stuart   Composer
Charlie Brown   Contributor
Skip Anselm   Composer

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The Low End Theory 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Check this album out, great lyrics, simple yet effective beats, and classic hooks. From the opener "Excursions" to the closing posse cut "Scenario", this album does not disappoint! The chemistry between the group is evident as well. Do not wait, get this album now!
Astral_Project More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I remember hearing this album my first year of high school in '91. I can still play this album from start to finish. Why can't more hip hop albums be more like this? ATCQ blends the same formula from their last album and created a more jazzed out version without losing their originality. Listen to tracks 1,2,7,9, and 11 and you'll see what I mean. There is sure to be more than one track that will make you remember when originality in hip hop was not hard to find and not underappreciated.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A CLASSIC!!! The scenario, check the ryhme, its like butta, diamon d, sadat x, nuff said. This is their best album....it was in 8th grade in a tiny radio that i first heard the intro to excursions......... i knew then this music called hip hop had touched me like no other.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is ATCQ's second album. Every song on here is a stroke of genius. This is one of the rare CDS that you can listen to without skipping any song. The only other CD this can be compared to is Their third cd midnight marauders.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Got to love Q and Phife! I grew up hearing and watching them as well as our other forefathers of hip hop. One thing that makes an album good is the ability to be so complex that one can listen to it over and over and never get bored with the songs such as theirs. If you dig the Roots, Digitable Planets, Black Eyed Peas, or any other hip-hop group that has the slightest tinge of jazz to it, you have "The Low End Theory" to thank. Ali Shaheed Muhammed fuses up-beat hip-hop with funky jazz, and must of felt real good when he was finished. But it's not like this album was simply influential and not essential, or that it's solely revolutionary in one sense and not able to stand on its own in others. All through the album the beats are deep and the bass is funky without being overbearing. There are a few tracks that are less than superb, but the album is still great. "Buggin' Out," "Butter," "Rap Promoter," "Rhymes and Stuff," "Jazz," and "Scenario" are all perfect. All these tracks either have your heads nodding, hips shaking, and minds working. The way the music matches Q-tips rhymes flawlessly always astounds me and Phife's lyrics keep the beat going. Q-Tip and Phife are two of the most skilled lyricists and MCs of all time, and their vocal contributions to Ali's beats do nothing but enhance them. This album stands out as their finest. For those who do not listen to hip hop, this would be an excellent choice for a "symbol" rap album. I know few who have failed to be satisfied, and most are mesmerized. As for rap fans, none should be allowed to call themselves a hip hop head if they do not already have this laying around your rack/desk/or shelf.