In 1971, he and Wendell Harrison formed a group called The Tribe, which was an avant-garde jazz ensemble devoted to black consciousness. Alongside it he co-founded Tribe Records. He released several albums as a leader in the 1970s, and continued with The Tribe project until 1978. following this, Ranelin worked with Freddie Hubbard.
Ranelin worked mostly locally in Detroit in the following decades, and did not find widespread acceptance among jazz aficionados. However, he eventually came to the attention of rare groove collectors who became increasingly interested in his work. As a result, Tortoise drummer John McEntire remastered some of Ranelin's older material and re-released it on Hefty Records. A remix album soon followed, which included an appearance from Telefon Tel Aviv.
- Message From The Tribe (Tribe Records, 1972)
- The Time Is Now! (Tribe, 1974; reissued Hefty Records, 2001)
- Vibes From The Tribe (Tribe, 1975; reissued Hefty Records, 2001)
- Love Dream (Rebirth Records, 1986)
- A Close Encounter of the Very Best Kind (Lifeforce Records, 1996)
- Remixes (Hefty Records, 2002)
- Inspiration (Wide Hive Records, 2004)
- Living a New Day (Wide Hive Records, 2009)
- Reminiscence (Wide Hive Records, 2009)
- Perseverance with Henry Franklin and Big Black (Wide Hive Records, 2011)