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The Low End Theory

4.9 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Sept. 24 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Canada
  • ASIN: B0000004X7
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,123 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Excursions
2. Buggin' Out
3. Rap Promoter
4. Butter
5. Verses From The Abstract
6. Show Business
7. Vibes and Stuff
8. The Infamous Date Rape
9. Check The Rhime
10. Everything Is Fair
11. Jazz (We've Got)
12. Skypager
13. What?
14. Scenario

Product Description


De La Soul are remembered as the premier Native Tongues posse, those rappers who got low-key, self-consciously thoughtful, and jazzy in the face of gangsta's hardcore threats. But A Tribe Called Quest may have been even stronger, especially on their excellent second album, the bass-thumping, heavily jazz-sampled The Low End Theory. According to the opening "Excursions," rapper Q-Tip's old man says the disc's jazz-rap "reminded him of bebop," and Q calls himself "prominent like Shakespeare." But if Charlie Parker had ever written poetic couplets and backed them with funky-drummer and Ron Carter-on-bass grooves this irresistible, he might have been as big as the Bard and Brother James combined. --David Cantwell

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
1991 was a GREAT year in hip hop. I was glad to see Organized Konfusion, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Main Source, and others drop GEMS. Also, A Tribe Called Quest with their second album. This album is one of the greatest EVER, and it's production(and lyrics as well) is what pushed it over the top. If you didn't feel the impact on their first album, you DEFINITELY felt it on this album. Here's the review:
Album Highlights: NO filler, but the HIGHLIGHTS are Check the rhyme, Buggin out, Butter, Show Business(w/Brand Nubian & Diamond D), Jazz, and Scenario(w/Leaders Of The New School).
Production: Thumbs up, Ali Shaheed's BEST production ever.
Lyrics and Subject Matter: Thumbs up.
Originality: Thumbs up.
The Last Word: The GREATEST album from the ATCQ catalog. Most artists' second album usually cannot touch their first, but the Tribe did it, and they did it in style and grace. A STRONG RECOMMENDATION for this album if you don't own it. Don't be left out on owning one AWESOME album.
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Format: Audio CD
During the late 80s the torch of conscious lyricism had been handed to the Native Tongues (Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest). The difference between them and other conscious lyricist of the time such as Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy was their more relaxed, spiritual presentation. This created a new sound to Hip Hop which became mastered by New York's own, A Tribe Called Quest, with their sophomore release, "Low End Theory", in 1991. The heavy jazz influence was revolutionary at the time along with Q-Tip's Slick Rick style flow. This is the reason this record is hailed as a classic. It represented a pinnacle era where groups like Brand Nubian, Organized Konfusion, and Gang Starr were the faces of true Hip Hop. It also gave birth to later acts like Digable Planets, The Fugees, and The Roots to debut in the early 90s. Despite assassination attempts on Hip Hop in the mid 90s artist remembered these earlier groups which gave birth to the more contemporary kings of conscious lyricism like Talib Kweli and Blackalicious. Though Low End Theory is recognized as a classic it's true significance may not come until several decades when it will represent Hip Hop much in a way that Miles Davis' Kind of Blue has become regarded as the benchmark of Jazz.
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Format: Audio CD
This one is a fairly recent pruchase for me. I got it a few years ago, after hearing enough buzz and reading enough positive reviews to tip the scale. Thing is, I am not a hip-hop guy. I dig jazz, funk, all kinds of rock, even some electronica, but until I got this album I never was able to get into rap. I guess I just didn't connect to it, and I was turned off by the violence and macho posturing. Well, none of that here. What we have on the "low end theory" is intelligent worldplay, a smooth delivery, and the most laid-back, jazzy set of grooves I've ever heard on anything even resembling hip-hop. There's interesting commentary on the music scene, discussion of the connection between hip-hop and bebop, and a little tribute to Ron Carter the famous jazz bassist who plays on a couple tracks here. It's an engaging and fun listen from beginning to end (except maybe "date rape," my least favorite track here). If all hip-hop was like this, I would be a fan of the genre. But I still notice Nellie at the top of the charts, while many people don't even know that this exists. It's a sad, sad world.
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By A Customer on July 13 2003
Format: Audio CD
In one defining moment, A Tribe Called Quest made a classic CD as well as opened possiblities to what Hip Hop (and music) could become. This makes the Low End Theory one of the most important Hip Hop CDs ever made. If the Native Tongues (De La Soul and Jungle Brothers) added fresh new colors to Hip-Hop, then A Tribe Called Quest were the Michaelangelo of their time and the Low End Theory was their Sistine Chapel. Check the Rhime, Vibes & Stuff, and Verses From the Abstract were all sounds that hip-hop fans had never heard before. The Tribe took obscure, yet masterful jazz abstractions and anchored them with heavy, low end beats. Add in Q-Tip's enigmatic flow and a game Phife (check him on Butter and Scenario) and the resulting music was more fun than Be-Bop and is still light years ahead of most of the hip-hop in your CD player right now. Never before had rap artists put in such work to fuse beats, melodies, lyrics, timing, and thought into a relevant musical effort as ecletic and stomping as this CD. As a group, a Tribe Called Quest raised the bar in Hop-Hop at a time when it needed raising (Hammertime, Young MC, anyone?) and for that, the heads are eternally grateful. The Low End Theory crystalized the the Tribe as legends in the rap genre and still makes a definitive statement about creativity, innovation, and artistry in modern music.
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Format: Audio CD
Well, here it is: after more than 250 reviews, my first ever of a rap album. And I can't think of one more deserving than "The Low End Theory." It's because of albums like this one that it pays to keep an open mind. Much like rock, hip-hop over the past decade (or at least its public face) has been largely a non-stop parade of mediocrity, but A Tribe Called Quest provided convicing proof of just how much potential the genre actually has. Instead of focusing too much on establishing a threatening image or blasting the listener's eardrums with mindless and overbearing basslines, Tribe married the seemingly contradictory poles of jazz and rap with more musicality and intelligence than anyone would have a right to expect. The uber-smooth Q-Tip and Phife spat out witticisms and allusions with a flow that puts the likes of DMX and Ja Rule to shame. The jazzy drums and bass in the background give the music a warm and organic feel, in sharp contrast to the canned beats that predominate in hip-hop (with a few exceptions) these days. Perhaps most importantly, the fourteen songs here are all irresistibly catchy. If you can't bob your head to tunes like "Excursions," "Buggin' Out," the aptly titled "Butter," and the concluding rave-up "Scenario," chances are you're way too uptight. Busta Rhymes's guest spot on "Scenario" even makes me want to get down, and there are few people out there more rhythmically impaired than I. "The Low End Theory" is a great reminder of how little things like fun and artistry could make for a great album. That's certainly a lesson that more people in every genre would be well advised to heed.
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