Yes, Yes and Yes Sunday Jammers. Greetings, salutations and welcome back. It’s the last stop on the mini tour celebrating the concept of the band and its enduring place in music. This week I’m keeping it short, after last week’s triple decker episode – also thanks for all the nice words that came in about the Anger and Action edition, you are all shiny and excellent.
So, I started off the band tour with a classic (the immense Sonic Youth) and thought it would be appropriate for the closing act to be another classic but this time from a different genre and era. This outfit was a staple part of my music development, it seemed like I couldn’t walk into the space of any of my older cousins without hearing their sound. They are generally regarded as the pioneers of alternative rap and had the 90s on lockdown. For me they were the archetype and epitomised the dream of hip-hop, they were the yardstick for the cool and the great. They understood music, had mad flow, humour, intelligence and plenty of swagger. This track is just the healing balm I needed after the intensity of last week’s offerings, this track is best listened to en masse and in mellow mode. It conjures up images of nights out, crowded spots, dancing in corners, the sound of clinking glasses; an evening symphony from a different time. I miss that sense of spontaneity so much, thankfully not so far away anymore — hopefully.
Today’s outfit is A Tribe Called Quest and the track is ‘Electric Relaxation’ from the seminal album Midnight Marauders. This is one of the sexiest, most sensual and funkiest hip-hop tracks ever, ever, ever made. It’s got a mellow jazz vibe and a full hip-hop bassline that fuels it and makes it sing. It makes me think of nights out, where someone catches another person’s eye and then the game is on. Banter, humour, sometimes rejection, sometimes success, all accompanied by a tune to wind your waist to — or if it’s all too mellow, then a headz style nod will do but, no sitting down and get into the lyrics. The interplay and varying lyrical styles of the MCs is hip-hop magic, Q-Tip has this cosmic philosophical sensibility while Phife Dog is more grounded, direct and uses comedy timing to genius effect.
Hip-hop outfits like this feel like the ideal meeting point between philosophy, musicality and creative audacity. A Tribe Called Quest set such a high benchmark for me. I never ever once felt like they were compromising between lyrical integrity or creating engaging music. They maintained both underground and mainstream appeal. If you decide to look at the roster there are some heavyweight talents coming out of this period including Black Sheep, Digable Planets, Dilated Peoples, Arrested Development, The Fugees, The Roots and, of course, De La Soul. There are many more, but these are some of my standout favourites. Just banger, after banger, after banger. So, turn it up loud Sunday Jammers, work your bass and enjoy. Next week a new theme. Loves.