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  • Fred Smith

A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

Updated: May 21, 2020

Midnight Marauders was rap group A Tribe Called Quest’s third album. Released on November 9, 1993 it had to compete with another classic, ‘Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers’ by Wu-Tang Clan. Since then, both have gone on to be known as two of the greatest Hip-Hop albums in history, influencing generations. The album had three different covers featuring various musical icons of the time including Grandmaster Flash, Ice-T and Busta Rhymes to name a few, making the record iconic in many ways.

Midnight Marauders Tour Guide – The robotic voice of Laurel Dann introduces herself as the guide to the Midnight Marauders program over a jazzy instrumental. She describes it as bouncy and bass heavy as she gives us a taste of what’s to come.

Steve Biko (Stir It Up) – This track was named after Steve Biko, a South African anti-apartheid and anti-colonialism activist who was assassinated in 1977. This is a feel-good track with an instrumental to match. The delivery from Phife Dawg and Q-Tip is brilliant, notably Tip’s flow at the start of the fourth verse.

Award Tour – A celebratory track after the success of their previous album, ‘The Low End Theory’. The production is flawless again with a great jazzy instrumental, making it easy to hear why this was chosen as the lead single off the album as all the elements come together perfectly. Laurel Dann returns on the outro to explain the title of the album. ‘Midnight’ as most people listen to music during the night and ‘Marauders’ as A Tribe Called Quest ‘maraud for ears’ meaning they are looking for ears to steal to listen to the music.

8 Million Stories – The theme slightly changes on this track as Phife describes how everything is going wrong in his life. He tells various different stories about bad experiences he’s had. Phife adapts very well as his delivery perfectly matches the glummer instrumental, capturing the emotions perfectly.

Sucka ***** - On this track, Q-Tip describes the origin of the n-word and why the young, black people of the day used it in the way they did. The track delivers a powerful message as young, black people ‘embrace adversity’ during a time where racism was very much still alive throughout the world. Tip doesn’t see the word as derogatory, but as a term of endearment between people in black communities. Therefore, he puts the word ‘sucka’ infront of it to disrespect someone.

Midnight – Much more of a ‘boom-bap’ beat and flow as Q-Tip describes what happens out in the night. Tip’s flow on the track is incredible and the hook is great. The outros are starting to feel like lessons which set up the next track.

We Can Get Down – Only the second track with verses from both Phife and Q-Tip. This is another very self-confident track and the delivery from both is great as well as the production.

Electric Relaxation – The first track where Phife and Tip go back and forth in their verses and it’s perfect. The track itself focuses on the admiration of various women. The two complement each other so well, making tracks like these some of the best in Quest’s discography. I also really like the hook which slots in between.

Clap Your Hands – Phife name drops various other artists and iconic people on his verse over a smoother, more melodic instrumental. Tip’s calmer, smoother flow fits perfectly on this instrumental as he proves he can adapt to various beats as well.

Oh My God – Not much to say about this track itself apart from the flow from both Phife and Tip is great. The hook from Busta Rhymes is a similar line from his verse on ‘Scenario’ from ‘The Low End Theory’ looped eight times showing how much they loved it. It goes down as possibly one of the most recognisable hooks in hip-hop history.

Keep It Rollin’ – Phife’s verse is brilliant and his delivery is perfect over another calmer instrumental. Tip shows once again that he also works perfectly over a calmer instrumental. Large Professor features for the third verse with a deeper voice and slower flow which contrasts the other two very well.

The Chase, Part II – The ‘Part II’ comes from the fact that this version of the track is much smoother and generally fits Quest’s style much better than the original. The hook is sample from, ‘Nobody Beats The Biz’ by Biz Markie which is mixed perfectly and appears at various points on the track. Laurel Dann then states that this track concludes the program, despite the fact that there are two tracks left. This could be seen as the remaining tracks are just bonus tracks or they may still fit in with the album, especially the next track, ‘Lyrics To Go’ which feels like it fits in well.

Lyrics To Go – This track is based around a guitar riff from James Brown which sounds great. The flow on Phife’s verse puts it up there with his best. This track really does feel like the end to the album so in my opinion the next is just a bonus track.

God Lives Through – Despite this feeling like a bonus track, it’s still a brilliant song. The ‘oh my God’ is used again on this track showing just how much they loved it. In fact, apart from the rapping, pretty much the whole track is sampled which is incredible. It feels like Ali and Tip were just showing off to close the album.

Overall Thoughts – This album solidified A Tribe Called Quest as the best hip-hop group of all time in my opinion. Phife Dawg’s delivery is on point in every track. The same goes for Q-Tip who makes the perfect rapping duo with Phife and the perfect production duo with Ali Shaheed Muhammad. This album really put Tip up there as one of the best rapper-producers of all time. Not only is this album pretty much perfect, but its influence in hip-hop can still be seen today. The way Tip and Ali used sampling inspired some of the all-time great producers like Kanye. This album, among others, also helped create the foundations for jazz rap which pretty much created renown artists such as Childish Gambino and Freddie Gibbs. Without this album, I don’t think the hip-hop game would be the same as it is and has been for the last 20/25 years. There really is nothing bad that I have to say about this album.

Favourite Track – Can’t choose, they are all at the highest level

Rating – 10+

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