The Low End Theory: 25 years later and we're still checking the rhyme

Joseph Tiller
Posted by Joseph Tiller on Oct 3


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A Tribe Called Quest is celebrating 25 years of their second album The Low End Theory. Released in September of 1991, The Low End Theory came one year after Tribe’s debut album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Their sophomore album was met with more success than the first. Tribe’s fans base grew exponentially with this album, introducing them to a whole new audience that were unaware of their mellow vibe and intriqueing lyrics. Tribe’s sound and style was different from the mainstream Hip-Hop of the time.

Hardcore Hip-Hop was the wave during the early 90s, but Tribe’s light hearted, fun loving lyrics were a change of pace. Mixed with commentary on social issues, The Low End Theory touched on date rape and consumerism with songs like "The Infamous Date Rape," and “Skypager.” With heavier bass lines and more jazz influence than other Hip-Hop production, A Tribe Called Quest solidified themselves as the alternative Hip-Hop group.

Along with the release of this album, Tribe began to perform more high profile shows, which also helped them gain popularity. Appearances on The Arsenio Hall Show, which was one of the hottest talk shows on air during the time, put them in front of the mainstream.

The Low End Theory gave us classic Tribe tracks that Hip-Hop heads hold dear to their hearts. Songs like “Buggin Out,” “Jazz (we got it),” “Check the Rhime” and “Scenario.” This album also showed just how powerful a lyricist Phife Dawn was. On the previous album, Phife didn't have a strong presence, often overshadowed by Q-Tip. On this album, he demanded and gained respect as an emcee.

The album did not have much features, with guest verses only from Leaders of the New School and Brand Nubian. The Low End Theory hit gold status a year after its release and platinum ‘95. 25 years later, The Low End Theory is still abstract but relatable.

Joseph Tiller

Written by Joseph Tiller

Topics: A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory

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