A Tribe Called Quest
October 17, 2004
BY JASON SONGE
There wasn't a more historical performance at Voodoo Fest this year than A Tribe Called Quest's concert Sunday afternoon. It was the Rap trio's second live peformance since disbanding in 1998.
MC's Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad walked on stage first and were followed by the group's star, Q-Tip. The three exchanged handshakes and hugs. This gesture was a sign of their solidarity and a reminder of when ATCQ was defunct.
At the beginning of the concert, they were a little rusty. The group re-started two songs because of vocal mistakes, but after a while, they hit a groove. It was funny and endearing to see Q-Tip stop a song, laugh and then playfully scold Phife for a miscue. They were having fun being a group again. They executed their songs with a boisterous confidence they had a right to.
What was A Tribe Called Quest? Were they the most intelligent, artistic Rap group of the '90's? Probably. Were they the most influential, important, or best group of the '90's? Yes. Pick any describer. It doesn't matter. These guys were and are the living template for forward-thinking Hip-Hop.
Their concert was a vivrant, yet controlled study in what made them so great: hot rhymes, hot topics and hot grooves. While introducing "Sucka Nigga," Q-Tip recounted how many people were angry with the group for using the word nigga when the song came out. He went on to defend the song by the context in which the word was used.
Less heavy and more fun was when the three huddled on the left side of the stage and beatboxed together. The way they played off one another was very impressive. This devolved into a one phrase breakdown by Q-Tip. He kept repeating a sentence over and over again, each time reducing the words a little more to their elemental breath sounds. Damn cool.
The band performed "Can I Kick It?" "Buggin' Out, "Verses From The Abstract," "Check the Rhime," "Oh My God," and "Electric Relaxation," among others.
Q-Tip did a call and response with the crowd during "Buggin' Out." "Electric Relaxation" was a highlight. Even though they couldn't reproduce all the intricacies on the recorded version, the backing track and the Tribe's concise rapping was enough to carry the spirit of the song.
If anybody needed proof they should have re-united, this concert was it. Now, I'm waiting for a new album.