A Tribe Called Quest: Phife, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Jarobi.
Additional personnel: Faith Evans (vocals); Trugoy, Leaders Of The New School, Charlie Brown, Dinco D., Busta Rhymes (rap vocals).
Producers: A Tribe Called Quest, Hoods, Q-Tip, The Ummah.
Includes liner notes by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds.
Digitally remastered by Tom Coyne (1999, Sterling Sound).
Emerging on the cusp of the '90s, Tribe quickly became that decade's hip-hop icons. While Phife, Q-Tip, and Ali displayed unquestionable lyrical skills, they possessed a social consciousness that eschewed thuggish gangsta sensibilities, more concerned with communication than "street" bravado. ANTHOLOGY opens with "Check the Rhime" from Tribe's masterful second album, THE LOW END THEORY. A quintessential Tribe cut, it features the trademark conversational interaction between Phife and Q-Tip, and observations that tell much about the group's philosophy, as Phife declares "I'm far from a bully, and I ain't a punk" and Q-Tip observes that "knowledge is the key."
Of course, Tribe was innovative and impressive straight out of the gate, as shown by its debut's warm love song "Bonita Applebum," which mixes smooth '70s R&B with a sitar sample and the belief that "love never dies." Pioneers of the jazz/hip-hop alliance, Tribe sampled everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Lonnie Smith, achieving the complex, polyphonic tapestry of Public Enemy without the anger. ANTHOLOGY shows that Tribe was always able to find just the right elements to combine for the backdrop to their fast-moving raps. From the breezy jazz guitar chords of "Electric Relaxation" to the Average White Band horn section on "Check the Rhime."
Entertainment Weekly (10/29/99, p.115) - "...an innovative spirit sorely missed in today's hip-hop. Mixing jazzy vibes with, say, Lou Reed, samples and witty rhymes, Tribe eschewed trends in favor of making them. Even as they engaged the mind, [Their] anthems endured as party classics..." - Rating: A
Q (12/99, p.168) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The sparse, jazzy cuts still marvel, as do the whimsical raps of quacky Q-Tip and 'ruffneck' sidekick Phife tag-teaming over thrumming bass, scratchy breaks and insistent, head-nodding beats....we'll not likely hear [a group like this] again."
CMJ (11/15/99, p.26) - "...makes for a damn fine 'Cliff's Notes' on A Tribe Called Quest's decade-long reign, complete with the hits, the anthems and even a few slept-on gems..."
The Source (12/99, p.260) - "...remnants of what made Tribe so great...are collectively showcased in such a fine manner that the need for wet hankies may be dire....a testament to what kind of playing field these guys were once on, and, how much their original flavor will be missed."