A Tribe Called Quest
People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
(Legacy / Zomba)
The first album from the Queens-based hip hop collective A Tribe Called Quest was not only one of the best debuts to come out of the ‘90s (released in April of 1990), it is also easily one of the top hip hop records to come out of that decade. At 14 songs, the album introduced a wildly imaginative new sound, blending jazz with rap, slowing down the vocals so they poured rather than spewed out, helping create a whole new subgenre and laying the groundwork – along with fellow Native Toungues Posse members De La Soul – for everyone from Digable Planets to The Roots.
Legacy Records has just put out a 25th anniversary edition of People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (they even had the wordy album title thing down long before the emo kids). More than two decades later the album still deserves the ecstatic praise it received when it first came out. Songs like “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick it,” still sound remarkably fresh in 2015. With Q Tip and Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor) taking turns at the mic, both have very distinctive vocals and complement each other greatly. They sample everyone from Lou Reed to Stevie Wonder on this one and lyrically, the album is smart, sometimes serious, but just as often witty – “Ham ‘N’ Eggs” is still one of the funniest/oddest songs to grace a 1990s Hip Hop album. The anniversary edition includes three bonus tracks; remixes by Ceelo Green, Pharrell Williams and J. Cole, none of which live up to the originals, but the album is a perfect reminder that People’s Instinctive Travels… needs to move back into regular rotation.