Third and last of the "classic" Tribe records (preceding the addition of Jay Dee and the formation of "the Ummah" production team), MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS is not as groundbreaking as PEOPLE'S INSTINCTIVE TRAVELS or as consistently on-point as LOW END THEORY. However, it is arguably the group's most musically sophisticated album. The tracks balance jazz, soul, and even reggae influences with pure hip-hop to arrive at a completely distinctive Tribe sound, the logical evolution of the bop-inflected hooks which characterized LOW END THEORY.
Production-wise, Tribe graduates from a cool school aesthetic to an electric jazz sound (reminiscent of fusion-era Miles Davis). Lyrically MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS finds the group's abstract poetics in excellent form as usual, and Phife is miles ahead of the "mayor-flavor" rhymes of "Can I Kick It." As per the title, the album develops the introspection of "After Hours" into a nocturnal feel which winds it's way through "Midnight," the party-rock of "We Can Get Down," "Clap Your Hands" and the complex layers of "God Lives Through."
Spin (12/93, p.119) - Highly Recommended - "...the way Q-Tip and Phife trade solos evokes the spontaneity of an improv jam session, but the smoke in the room is cheeba, not tobacco..."
Entertainment Weekly (11/12/93, p.65) - "...[A Tribe Called Quest's MIDNIGHT MARAUDER] sounds as fresh as their first...rappers Phife and Q-Tip manage to hold attention without resorting to gun references or expletives..." - Rating: A
Vibe (11/93, p.103) - "...on MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS [Tribe Called Quest] counter with beats that are less jazzy and more jeep-centric...a rap classic..."
The Source (12/93, p.88) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...With their third album, MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS, Quest do what they've always done - ignore all of the current trends in hip-hop and deliver a solid collectable..."
Melody Maker (11/27/93, p.41) - "...A Tribe Called Quest have expanded their vision with a lyrical gravitas and a musical lightness of touch that has hitherto eluded them across a whole album...."
Musician (1/94, p.92) - "...MARAUDER's varied, sophisticated themes hold your attention even as the grooves lull you into head-nodding..."
Village Voice (3/1/94, p.5) - Ranked #21 in the Village Voice's 1993 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.
NME (Magazine) (11/27/93, p.32) - (7) - Very Good - "...MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS is [Tribe Called Quest's] most complete work to date..."