Why Midnight Marauders Is Better Than The Low End Theory

midnight-marauders-a-tribe-called-quest-back-n-the-day-buffetWhen A Tribe Called Quest’s third studio album “Midnight Marauders” dropped on November 9, 1993 the first thing we thought was “How good can this album be if “Low End Theory” was perfect?”.  How can one drop two “perfect” albums back to back?  Their debut was a classic too but unfortunately get’s lost and overlooked.  The Lakers, Yankees and Islanders (they won 4 in a row) won 3 championships in a row, but this is not a team sport.  Or maybe it is!  In sports you have offense and defense.  In music you have beats and rhymes.  It takes the producer to make dope beats to get the MC inspired to drop dope lyrics, so the correlation can be made.  What I am about to do is list the 5 tracks that make “Midnight Marauders” stand a little taller than it’s predecessor.

Steve Biko (Stir It Up)

As soon as the “Tour Guide” introduces to us to the album, we hear some of the sweetest horns to ever enter our ear canal and tickle our ear drum.  The Woody Shaw sample combined with a Michal Urbaniak beat, makes this a track that will make you repeat “Linden Blvd., represent represent/A Tribe Called Quest represent represent”  in your sleep.  This track is as addictive as sliders at White Castle after going to a Cypress Hill concert!  Phife Dawg is first off to bat and hits the first fastball he sees over that centerfield wall!

Linden Boulevard represent, represent
Tribe Called Quest represent, represent
When the mic is in my hand, I’m never hesitant
My favorite jam back in the day was Eric B. for Presi…
Rude boy composer, step to me you’re over
Brothers wanna flex, you’re not Mad Cobra
MC short and black, there ain’t no other
Trini-born black like Nia Long’s grandmother
Tip and Sha they all that, Phife Dawg ditto
Honey tell your man to chill, or else you’ll be a widow
Did not you know that my styles are top-dollar?
The Five-Foot Assassin knocking fleas off his collar
Hip hop scholar since being knee high to a duck
The height of Muggsy Bogues, complexion of a hockey puck
You better ask somebody on how we flip the script
Come to a Tribe show and watch the three kids rip

Sucka Nigga

Over a Jack Wilkins’ sample of his version of  “Red Clay” and a vocal sample of “MC Battle” by Busy Bee, Q-Tip explains the origin, why we use the word “nigga” and why he doesn’t want to use it but by some strange force in the Hip Hop universe, he does.  It’s a serious song but of course everything made by these guys is candy for our ears.  There is nothing like this song on their previous two LP’s.

I be hating sucker MCs, and the sucker niggas
Posing like they hard when we know they damn card
What you figure, rhyme-wise I do the figure eight so concisely
Musically we are the herb so sit back and light me
My style is kinda fat reminiscent of a whale
Young girls desires older female dreams
I be the Abstract Poetic representing from Queens
Socially I’m not inane, black and white got game
If you came to the jam, well I’m glad you came
See, nigga first was used back in the Deep South
Falling out between the dome of the white man’s mouth
It means that we will never grow, you know the word dummy
Upper niggas in the community think it’s crummy
But I don’t, neither does the youth cause we em-
Brace adversity it goes right with the race
And being that we use it as a term of endearment
Niggas start to bug, to the dome is where the fear went
Now the little shorties say it all of the time
And a whole bunch of niggas throw the word in they rhyme
Yo I start to flinch, as I try not to say it
But my lips is like the oowop as I start to spray it
My lips is like a oowop as I start to spray it
My lips is like a oowop as I start to spray the


Another dope Q-Tip solo track is “Midnight” where he walks us thru a day in his hood once the sun goes down.  He has a gyro, tries to get laid, get’s harassed by the cops and ends the game shooting hoops.  This track is blazing hot!  The deep prehistoric bass on this track will make you feel like “Redman is inside your trunk“.  This is one of Q-Tip’s greatest solo joints on a Tribe album.

See, Jake be gettin illy when the sun get dark
He be coming out for heads but shit don’t let me start
There’s activities a-plenty in the nighttime
For the ghetto child it seem to be the right time
See, kids be getting stuck with jewels and fly gimmicks
Shorty see the action and then start to mimic
Running to the corner, the dice game is blazing
Looking at the loot, it seems so amazing
Puts the short down, to be exact one pound
He shakes the stones in his hand, then he lets it down
Scared money don’t make none
He threw a trick on the ace now he’s out son
Hits the local bodega to wolf down a gyro
Son is on a midnight run like De Niro
Spots a shorty rock standing on his block
The fiends be hounding him to pump so he asked it it’s not
Conversation that he kicked to the shorty was a sly one
Increased intensity, cause damn she was a fly one
Took her to the crib there she ran her jibs
About mind upliftment and being positive
He yawned and he sighed til 1:05
Then he finally realized that honey wasn’t live
At least he didn’t plan on building for the evening
Threw the Fila on the dome and said ‘Come on yo, we leaving’
Came out on the scene as he told her to beep him
Saw his man Stan with the blunt in his hand
(Ah sh…) You know the transaction
Brothers gettin lost in the weed satisfaction
Coming down the block man loud as (fuck)
You would swear Redman was inside the truck
As the night seemed darker, cops is on a hunt
They interrupt your cipher, and crush your blunt
See you left your work at home so they pat you down for nothing
Why in the hell does 10-4 keep fronting
You push to the park even though it’s still dark
The kid is nice on the hoop, he said ‘I’ll spot you troop’

Lyrics To Go

It seems that ATCQ loves Minnie Riperton since they tend to sample her music so much.  They do it here again by sampling “Inside My Love” and also borrowing the drum beat from Clyde McPhatter’sThe Mixed Up Cup“.  As almost always, Q-Tip takes 2 verses and the middle verse is Phife’s.  The flow and lyrics combined with this beautifully produced track makes this track the gem of the album.  The track will keep you in a trance from the sound of Minnie Riperton’s voice at the beginning of the track until the track ends 4 minutes later.

[Verse 1: Q-Tip]

Goin on and on to the rhythmic variation
Wakin in the morning I still represent the nation
When I speak of nation please don’t make the deviation
Rebels of the party who create the drum sensation
Mind is a pit of different information
Microphone is on so of course communication
Bogle at the party then you got the bogle-ation
Decaptatin foes yo as if my name was Jason (c’mon)
Makin all the fellas at the party lose composure
Hook up the beat with the mic and it’s over (original, uh!)
A Tribe Called Quest we on the run for whatever
Trials and tribulations that we have to endeavor
Brothers know my steelo it’s a letter to the better
If you see a shorty that you like, then you sweat her
Silly with the microphone, in other words I’m loco
Six foot zero with my height, complexion cocoa
Representin on the mic it seems to be my daily
I can do a split and turn around like Alvin Ailey
But when it comes to days like this I got lyrics to go

(I got lyrics to go) It’s like that y’all, c’mon y’all
Lyrics to go It’s like that y’all, c’mon y’all
(Lyrics to go) It’s like that

[Verse 2: Phife Dawg]
I know it’s been two years but see the Tribe was never fallin
Would have tried for singin but that stuff was not my callin
The mic is in effect so you know I’m never stallin
Walkin through the door and all them suckers started haulin
Talk a lot of trash but no one can seem to beat it
Pull out your microphone and watch the Phifer make you eat it
The MC’s they get jealy when the girly’s on my belly
Kick a slow dance like my brother R. Kelly (bust a rhyme)
Today’s a hip-hop draft will I be top-seeded? (uhh)
Worked too frickin hard while all the rest were gettin weeded
Steady kickin styles so I can reach that other level (uh)
Don’t worry about gettin gassed I push the pedal to the metal
Always wanted this cause it surely beats a scramble (right)
I’m Jordan with the mic, huh, wanna gamble? (mmm)
This I dedicate to all the honiest that be bogle-in
Cause at the end of the night y’know Malik will have his Trojans
But when it comes to nights like this I got lyrics to go

Electric Relaxation

I know I’m not the only person that thinks that this jam is Tribe’s dopest record ever!  I don’t know if this is considered blasphemy, but I believe this joint beats the ish out of “Bonita Applebum“!  Yup…I said it!  As for the hook, we all need to know that it says, “Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down“.  I just wanted to get that out of the way.  The track samples a jazzy bass guitar riff from Ronnie Foster’sMystic Brew” and it gives the track that sex appeal.  It is the flyest fly love song they’ve ever made and a Top 3 in Hip Hop history!  Everyone knows every single word to this track, and since their hottest track is included in this masterpiece, it gives it that extra push!  You know that babies have been made to this song!  It’s absolutely sexy and only a dead man wouldn’t shake a leg to this track.

Honey, check it out, you got me mesmerized
With your black hair and your fat-ass thighs
Street poetry is my everyday
But yo, I gotta stop when you trot my way
If I was working at the club you would not pay
Aiyyo, my man Phife Diggy, he got something to say

[Phife Dawg]
I like ’em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation
Told you in the jam that we can get down
Now let’s knock the boots like the group H-Town
You got BBD all on your bedroom wall
But I’m above the rim and this is how I ball
A gritty little something on the New York street
This is how I represent over this here beat
Talking ’bout you

Yo, I took you out
But sex was on my mind for the whole damn route
My mind was in a frenzy and a horny state
But I couldn’t drop dimes cause you couldn’t relate

Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down
Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down
Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down
Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down

[Verse 2: Q-Tip & Phife Dawg]

Stretch out your legs, let me make you bawl
Drive you insane, drive you up the wall
Staring at your dome-piece, very strong
Stronger than pride, stronger than Teflon
Take you on the ave and you buy me links
Now I wanna pound the poontang until it stinks
You can be my mama and I’ll be your boy

[Phife Dawg]
Original rude boy, never am I coy
You can be a shorty in my ill convoy
Not to come across as a thug or a hood
But hon, you got the goods, like Madelyne Woods
By the way, my name’s Malik
The Five-Foot Freak
Let’s say we get together by the end of the week
She simply said, “No”, labelled me a ho
I said, “How you figure?” “My friends told me so”
I hate when silly groupies wanna run they yap
Word to God, hon, I don’t get down like that

I’ll have you weak in the knees that you could hardly speak
Or we could do like Uncle L and swing an ep in my jeep
Keep it on the down, yo, we keep it discreet
See, I’m not the type of kid to have my biz in the streets

[Phife Dawg]
If my mom don’t approve, then I’ll just elope
Let me save the little man from inside the boat
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

Shaheed, Phife and the Extra P
Stacy Beadle, PJ and my man L.G
They know the Abstract is really soul on ice
The character is of men, never ever of mice
Shorty let me tell you about my only vice
It has to do with lots of loving and it ain’t nothing nice

Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down
Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down
Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down
Relax yourself girl, please set-tle down

Keep bouncing

If “Low End Theory” is a 5 mic classic, “Midnight Marauders” would be a 5.1 mic classic! It just seems that “Midnight Marauders” is more polished sonically and lyrically, but not by much.  They gave us some classic material and cannot wait to get my hands on their new album.  I am not going to expect a masterpiece, but just listening to Phife Diggy one more time is enough to make me a happy camper!

-Al E.

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