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.