Beats, Rhymes and Life

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Beats, Rhymes and Life
Studio album by A Tribe Called Quest
Released July 30, 1996
Recorded 1995–1996; Battery Studios, New York, New York
Length 51:18
Label Jive
Producer The Ummah, Rashad Smith
A Tribe Called Quest chronology
Midnight Marauders
(1993)Midnight Marauders1993
Beats, Rhymes and Life
The Love Movement
(1998)The Love Movement1998
Singles from Beats, Rhymes and Life
  1. "1nce Again"
    Released: July 1, 1996
  2. "Stressed Out"
    Released: November 11, 1996
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Consumer Guide (3-star Honorable Mention)[2]
Entertainment Weekly A[3]
NME 7/10[4]
Q 4/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[7]
The Source 4/5[8]
Spin 7/10[9]

Beats, Rhymes and Life is the fourth album of the hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Released in 1996, it followed three years after the highly regarded and successful Midnight Marauders. This album is a departure from the joyful, positive vibe of the earlier albums and is regarded as the group's darkest album in content. It reached number-one on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B Albums charts.


The album was also the first to feature production work from The Ummah, a group that was composed of Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jay Dee. One topic on this album was the Death Row vs. Bad Boy rivalry. The album frequently features rapper Consequence, Q-Tip's cousin.

It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1997 and contains a single titled "1nce Again" that was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group the same year.[10] It was certified Platinum by the RIAA on October 27, 1998,[11] even though it was not regarded as highly as the group's first three albums.

The video version of "Stressed Out" has Phife Dawg rhyming on the second verse instead of Consequence. However, Phife's verse does not appear on the album.

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".[12] 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.[12]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
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
5. "Crew" Fareed, Muhammad 1:58
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
12. "Separate/Together" Fareed 1:38
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



Chart (1996) Peak
UK Albums (OCC)[13] 28
US Billboard 200[14] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[15] 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[16] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[17] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bush, John. "Beats, Rhymes and Life – A Tribe Called Quest". AllMusic. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved June 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ Tyehimba, Cheo (August 9, 1996). "Beats, Rhymes and Life". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life". NME: 51. August 1, 1996. 
  5. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life". Q (121): 172. October 1996. 
  6. ^ Hardy, Ernest (August 8, 1996). "Beats, Rhymes and Life". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  7. ^ Considine, J. D.; Randall, Mac (2004). "A Tribe Called Quest". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 823. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  8. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life". The Source (84): 145. September 1996. 
  9. ^ Hermes, Will (September 1996). "A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life". Spin. 12 (6): 149–50. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  10. ^ - Beats Rhymes & Life - Tribe Called Quest - CD
  11. ^ [1] Archived November 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ a b Exclusive: Q-Tip Interview. Retrieved on 2017-04-08.
  13. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  14. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest – Chart history" Billboard 200 for A Tribe Called Quest. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  15. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest – Chart history" Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for A Tribe Called Quest. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  16. ^ "Canadian album certifications – A Tribe Called Quest – Beats, Rhymes and Life". Music Canada. 
  17. ^ "American album certifications – A Tribe Called Quest". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
It Was Written by Nas
Billboard 200 number-one album
August 17–23, 1996
Succeeded by
Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette