A Tribe Called Quest

“Midnight Marauders” (1993)


Since 1994, A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders album has been a shoo-in for my desert island discs. It’s one of two records that I would want to take with me no matter where I am.

I have a particularly interesting relationship with Tribe. I remember hearing “Scenario” and “Jazz” when I was in elementary school, but with my short attention span and pension for pop-rap, they couldn’t keep up with the likes of Kris Kross. When “Award Tour” came out, my tastes shifted and sample-heavy contemporaries like The Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief were getting mad rotation on my Panasonic tape player. When I got my first CD player for my birthday that summer, the two CDs I picked out were Nas’ Illmatic and Midnight Marauders.

On planes, buses, waiting rooms, school, I played the shit out of “Marauders.” It’s one of the few records that I memorized from front to back and got weirdly obsessed with the connection between “Oh My God” and “God Lives Through.” When it came out, each cover had different color way borders, so I would go to the Wherehouse or Sam Goody and pour over each cover to see if the faces that backed the Tribe figure were different. I got into buying up breaks because of the incredibly detailed liner notes in “Marauders,” which I’m sure my wife curses under her breath when I come home with a stack of crackly old records.

I could legitimately go on for an entire book of why this is a great record: the lyrics from both Phife and Q-Tip are on point. It’s as fun as it is socially poignant – where else could you have a storytelling jam like “8 Million Stories” AND a song that addresses the value of the Black man in “Sucka N****”? Additionally, this is part of a generation of hip-hop records that could be incredibly sample heavy and probably not cost you a few mil.

It’s a time capsule in the best ways – it’s nostalgia, but it’s inspiring. Listening to “Midnight Marauders” makes me want to step up production and I would hope if you’re an artist in anyway, you’d feel the same way when this record comes on.

5/5 Spots.

— Ryan Pangilinan

Ryan Pangilinan aka DJ Ryan Fresh has been kicking around Seattle Hip-Hop for nearly 20 years. He’s one-third of VintageDOPE and actively DJs in the Puget Sound. He also plays bass in the queer synthpop band, Seaside Tryst. His first book, FRIEND REQUEST SENT, is available now on Pioneers Press.

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