In 1996, New York was responsible for many iconic album releases such as “It Was Written,” by Nas and Mobb Deep’s “Hell on Earth.” A Tribe Called Quest also contributed a classic album with the release of “Beats, Rhymes, and Life.” As a follow up to their “MidnightMarauders” album, we hear a darker vibe from the group aside from their usual joyous and positive themes. Even with the change of style they were still able to reach number one on the Billboard 200 and were nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rap album in 1997.
The album was fully produced by the Ummah, a production group consisting of Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jay Dee. Standout tracks include the singles “1nce Again” featuring Tammy Lucas, “Stressed Out” featuring Faith Evans and “Keeping It Moving.” In “1nce Again” the lyrical content is filled with braggadocios bars from Phife Dawg and Q-Tip that show why they are some of the best MC’s in New York City. “Stressed Out,” is more of a mellow melodic song with the help of Faith Evans on the hook that focuses on striving in the face of adversity. At the end of the day, positivity will prevail over the negative. Q-Tip has a lot to say about the West vs. East coast beef in “Keep it Moving.” Rumors were that Q-Tip was dissing the west coast prior to the album release and he goes on to clear the air on the subject by basically saying hating on another coast for their style of hip-hop is pointless.
With “Beats, Rhymes, and Life” being the group’s fourth studio album the growth from previous releases is definitely apparent. This classic album went certified platinum in late 1998, giving them three platinum albums to date. To witness more details on the come up of a Tribe Called Quest be sure to check out their 2011 released documentary Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest and catch up on their legendary discography.