Let me start out by saying that keeping this list to 5 songs was incredibly hard. Tribe’s catalog is chalk full of quality songs, so this was pretty tough for me. For fans of 90’s hip hop and/or jazz, it doesn’t get any better than A Tribe Called Quest. Phife Dawg and Q-Tip go together like peanut butter and jelly. Tribe is probably best known for the sampling that they’ve employed over the span of six albums. They blended hip hop and jazz to create a sound that you can literally do anything to. Put Midnight Marauders on at a party and press play. Every song is great. Got a couple friends over chilling out and drinking beers? Put The Low End Theory on and, you guessed it, press play.
In memory of Phife Dawg and as an ode to one of my favorite musical groups, here are my top 5 A Tribe Called Quest songs, in no particular order.
1. “Electric Relaxation”
“Let me hit it from the back, girl I won’t catch a hernia/Bust off on your couch now you got Seaman’s furniture.” Jesus Christ. Arguably the groups most popular song. A classic that you absolutely cannot leave off of any list like this. I don’t why, but Electric Relaxation always reminds of spring time. Like that time of year when all of the snow has melted, the temperature hovers around 50 degrees and it’s always raining. Or maybe it’s the fact that the first time I heard this it was a rainy day in April, I was 16, and I was smoking a joint full of brick weed in my 2 seater S-10. In any case, it’s a super chill song and Phife Dawgs verse is ridiculous.
2. “Jazz (We’ve Got)”
A deep cut from The Low End Theory, Tribe’s second album. Like all Tribe Called Quest songs, it’s just something you can vibe out to. Light a candle, open a book, and throw this track on. Or just lay on your couch, close your eyes, and enjoy. This song is that good.
3. “Scenario” (Featuring Busta Rhymes)
If you need a new morning alarm or just want to get the people at your party to start raging face, put Scenario on. Busta Rhyme’s verse is the stuff of legend in hip hop circles. The phrase “ROAAAH, ROARRR, LIKE A DUNGEON DRAGON” is still quoted in rap songs today. It’s a track that, for lack of a better phrase, just gets the people going.
4. “The Chase, Part II”
A lesser known track for sure, but still one of the most played Tribe songs in my iTunes library. I don’t know what it is about Phife Dawg. This is going to come out sounding incredibly white, but his flow is unlike anything else I’ve ever listened to. Literally every time he hops on a track I just start bobbing my head without meaning to. It’s incredible.
5. “Steve Biko (Stir It Up)”
Last, but certainly not least, is Steve Biko. Please, once again, excuse my whiteness here, but Q-Tip fucking bodies this song. I feel like I could have randomly drawn 5 Tribe songs out of a hat and written this blog the same way. “8 Million Stories” gets an honorable mention because Phife Dawg literally tells a bunch of stories in this one and it’s incredible. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few Tribe albums I’m about to play straight through. RIP Phife Dawg..