|Beats, Rhymes and Life|
|Studio album by|
|Released||July 30, 1996|
|Studio||Battery Studios, New York, New York|
|A Tribe Called Quest chronology|
|Singles from Beats, Rhymes and Life|
Beats, Rhymes and Life is the fourth studio album by American hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Released on July 30, 1996, by Jive Records, it followed three years after the highly regarded and successful Midnight Marauders. Produced by The Ummah, the album is a departure from the joyful, positive vibe of the group's earlier albums and is regarded as their darkest album in content. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 27, 1998.
In September 1993, shortly after the recording of Midnight Marauders had concluded, Phife Dawg moved to Atlanta. Along with Q-Tip's conversion to Islam the following year, the addition of Jay Dee to the group's new production team, The Ummah, and the enlistment of guest rapper Consequence, Q-Tip's cousin, the group dynamic changed drastically. Phife Dawg later stated that "the chemistry was dead, shot", while Q-Tip felt that becoming a Muslim "made the atmosphere much more serious."
For Beats, Rhymes and Life, The Ummah created a minimalist sound reminiscent of The Low End Theory, which Ali Shaheed Muhammad described as "nothing extravagant, nothing far out."Miles Marshall Lewis of The Source praised The Ummah for being "the most proficient in the rap game at using samples as instruments in themselves." Regarding Jay Dee's five contributions to the album, Q-Tip stated, "He would just send me the beats and then I would lay them." One of his contributions, the lead single "1nce Again", was hailed as "one of the few successes" on the album and a "surprising R&B crossover."
Lyrically, the group addresses "everything from O.J. to spirituality" and were recognized for the complexity of their messages. However, they were criticized for sounding "bored", "confused, hostile, and occasionally paranoid." In the song "Keeping It Moving", Q-Tip responds to the diss comments made about him in MC Hammer's songs "Break 'Em Off Somethin' Proper" and "Funky Headhunter", as well as Westside Connection's song "Cross 'Em out and Put a K". In the first verse, he says that comments previously made about the West Coast were not intended to be a diss and that people should not misinterpret his lyrics.
|Christgau's Consumer Guide|||
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Beats, Rhymes and Life debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on October 27, 1998, with shipments of one million copies in the United States, becoming the group's most commercially successful album.
The album received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Ernest Hardy of Rolling Stone called it "near-flawless", while commending The Ummah for their "irresistible" production, and the group for "spinning universal themes from an Afrocentric loom, with positivity balanced against subtly subversive street reporting."Entertainment Weeklys Cheo Tyehimba described it as "the return of playful yet potent hip-hop" and praised the "trademark originality" of the group's lyrics.Will Hermes of Spin credited the group for performing "with a sleight of hand that lets them get intelligent without ruining the party", however, he felt that "over the three fallow years since the group's last record, they've been dealing with a real crisis of musical faith."Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention in his consumer guide for The Village Voice, noting that the group fights "sensationalist obscurity with philosophic subtlety", which he believed was ineffective. Christgau highlighted "Jam", "Crew" and "The Hop" as standout tracks.
In the 5th edition of his Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Colin Larkin praised the group's "highly evolved" lyrics and lauded them for "addressing issues with greater philosophy than the crude banter of their past recordings." Despite calling the album "the group's most disappointing listen", John Bush of AllMusic credited it as "a dedication to the streets and the hip-hop underground."
Beats, Rhymes and Life was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and "1nce Again" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, presented at the 39th Grammy Awards in 1997.
|1.||"Phony Rappers"||Kamaal Fareed, Malik Taylor, Dexter Mills Jr.||3:35|
|2.||"Get a Hold"||Fareed, James Yancey||3:35|
|3.||"Motivators"||Fareed, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Taylor, Mills||3:20|
|4.||"Jam"||Fareed, Taylor, Mills||4:38|
|6.||"The Pressure"||Fareed, Muhammad, Taylor||3:02|
|7.||"1nce Again" (featuring Tammy Lucas)||Fareed, Muhammad, Taylor, Yancey, Steve Swallow||3:49|
|8.||"Mind Power"||Fareed, Muhammad, Taylor, Mills||3:55|
|9.||"The Hop"||Fareed, Taylor, Rashad Smith||3:27|
|10.||"Keeping It Moving"||Fareed, Yancey||3:38|
|11.||"Baby Phife's Return"||Fareed, Taylor||3:18|
|13.||"What Really Goes On"||Fareed, Leroy Bonner, Greg Webster, Andrew Noland, Marshall Jones, Ralph Middlebrooks, Walter Morrison, Marvin Pierce, Bruce Napier||3:23|
|14.||"Word Play"||Fareed, Taylor, Mills, Yancey||2:59|
|15.||"Stressed Out" (featuring Faith Evans)||Fareed, Muhammad, Mills, Faith Evans, Yancey, Gary Taylor||4:57|