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De La Soul are remembered as the premier Native Tongues posse, those rappers who got low-key, self-consciously thoughtful, and jazzy in the face of gangsta's hardcore threats. But A Tribe Called Quest may have been even stronger, especially on their excellent second album, the bass-thumping, heavily jazz-sampledThe Low End Theory. According to the opening "Excursions," rapper Q-Tip's old man says the disc's jazz-rap "reminded him of bebop," and Q calls himself "prominent like Shakespeare." But if Charlie Parker had ever written poetic couplets and backed them with funky-drummer and Ron Carter-on-bass grooves this irresistible, he might have been as big as the Bard and Brother James combined.--David Cantwell
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Label:  Jive
Release Date:  September 24, 1991
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review by . September 22, 2006
posted in Music Matters
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, Digital 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 …
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