People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Studio album by A Tribe Called Quest
Released April 17, 1990
Recorded 1989-1990; Calliope Studios, Battery Studios (New York, New York)
Genre Hip hop
Length 64:15
Label Jive, RCA Records
Producer A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest chronology
People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
The Low End Theory
Singles from People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
  1. "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo"
    Released: April 11, 1990
  2. "Bonita Applebum"
    Released: July 5, 1990
  3. "Can I Kick It?"
    Released: October 29, 1990

People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm is the debut album by alternative hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, released on April 17, 1990[1] on Jive Records. Though the album was well-received critically, it had little mainstream appeal. The album did earn the group a devoted following, however, within the alternative hip hop community. People's Instinctive Travels was praised for its inventive lyricism and production.


A Tribe Called Quest formed in Queens, New York in 1985.[2] After establishing a friendship with hip-hop act Jungle Brothers, both groups formed a collective dubbed Native Tongues, which also included De La Soul.[2]

Group member Q-Tip would have his first studio experience while recording with Jungle Brothers on their debut album Straight out the Jungle (1988).[3] Although this was a learning experience,[3] he acquired more recording and producing knowledge being present at all of De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising (1989) sessions.[4] Recording engineer Shane Faber taught Q-Tip how to use equipment such as the E-mu SP-1200 and Akai S950 samplers, and soon-after, renown producer Large Professor taught him how to use other equipment, for which he would expand upon on People’s Instinctive Travels.[5]

Initially, record labels wouldn't sign A Tribe Called Quest due to their unconventional image and sound,[6] but took interest after the success of 3 Feet High and Rising, which featured appearances from Q-Tip.[5] The group hired Kool DJ Red Alert as their manager, and after shopping their demo to several major labels, they signed a contract with Jive Records in 1989.[5]


Recording for the album began in late 1989, and finished three months later in early 1990,[7] with "Pubic Enemy" and "Bonita Applebum" as the first tracks recorded.[6]

The group chose Calliope Studios as their primary studio, as they were told no one who worked there would dictate how artists do things.[6] Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah and Prince Paul with De La Soul and Stetsasonic were all recording new music in separate rooms while A Tribe Called Quest recorded People’s Instinctive Travels.[6] Q-Tip later commented "It was exciting. We were kinda left to our own devices. It was just a great environment, conductive for creating. We didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have a bunch of things to tear at us. When we got to the studio, the specific job was to make music. There was no TV in there. It was all instruments and speakers. It was just music".[6]

Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad would listen to records several seconds at a time, and re-work them in relationship with other records that would fit.[6] Ali played all live instruments, DJ scratches and programming, while Q-Tip handled everything else with production, including sampling and mixing.[8]

Although claiming "we all helped put the album together", Q-Tip was the only Tribe Called Quest member present at every recording session.[5] Group member Phife Dawg later admitted "I was being ignorant on that first album, that’s why I was only on a couple of tracks. I was hardly around. I would have rather hung out with my boys on the street and got my hustle on rather than gone in the studio. I wasn’t even on the contract for the first album. I was thinking me and Jarobi were more like back-ups for Tip and Ali, but Tip and Ali really wanted me to come through and do my thing".[5][9]

Music and lyrics[edit]

People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm has been described as "a celebration of bohemia, psychadelia and vagabondia",[6] as well as "laid back".[2] The Los Angeles Times described the album as consisting of "mostly happy hip-hop, featuring gently humorous, casual, conversational raps".[10]

Much of the musical landscape on the album consisted of background noises such as a child crying, frogs and Hawaiian strings.[2] The jazz, R&B and rock samples that were used were from artists that most hip-hop producers of the time ignored, or who were unfamiliar with. For the known artists that were sampled, Q-Tip and Ali used breaks that were unique for those artists, which turned out to be highly influential.[2][6] Ian McCann from NME stated "They break beats from anywhere they want ... and deliver them in an easy, totally sympathetic setting."[11] Entertainment Weekly’s Greg Sandow said the album "has a casual sound, something like laid-back jazz".[12]

Regarding the album’s lyrics, Kris ex from Pitchfork said "The rhymes here are at once conversational and repressed, the topics concurrently large and small. The lyrics are 25 years old. But were they released today they'd seem right on time."[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[14]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[15]
Entertainment Weekly A−[12]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/5 stars[10]
NME 9/10[11]
Pitchfork 10/10[13]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[17]
The Source 5/5[18]
The Village Voice B+[19]

People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was met with positive reviews. Ian McCann from NME wrote that "A Tribe Called Quest put no feet in the wrong place here. This is not rap, it's near perfection".[11] Entertainment Weekly's Greg Sandow commented that on the album, rather than "defining Afrocentric living", the group "more or less exemplifies it with no fuss at all".[12] Robert Tanzilo from Chicago Tribune stated that the album "avoids the gimmickry and circus atmosphere" of the group's contemporaries, while "focusing solely on the music".[15]

Writing for Los Angeles Times, Dennis Hunt called the album "fascinating" and wrote "These songs lope along in a quirkly, jazz-like pace. They're intriguingly non-linear and quite provocative, even though their meaning is somewhat elusive".[10] In an enthusiastic review, The Source called it a "Completely musical and spiritual approach to hip-hop," and called it "a voyage to the land of positive vibrations, and each cut is a new experience".[18] Chuck Eddy from Rolling Stone stated "the real pleasure on People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm comes from a detailed mesh of instruments and incidental sounds", but went on to say "the rappers of A Tribe Called Quest tend to mumble in understated monotones that feel self-satisfied, even bored".[16]


Since its release, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm has been included on several "best of" lists compiled by music writers and journalists. The following information is adapted from Acclaimed Music.[20]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written and produced by A Tribe Called Quest.

No. Title Length
1. "Push It Along" 7:42
2. "Luck of Lucien" 4:32
3. "After Hours" 4:39
4. "Footprints" 4:00
5. "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" 4:06
6. "Pubic Enemy" 3:45
7. "Bonita Applebum" 3:50
8. "Can I Kick It?" 4:11
9. "Youthful Expression" 4:52
10. "Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)" 4:01
11. "Mr. Muhammad" 3:33
12. "Ham 'n' Eggs" 5:27
13. "Go Ahead in the Rain" 3:54
14. "Description of a Fool" 5:41
Total length: 64:15

Sample credits[edit]


Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ "Today in Hip-Hop: A Tribe Called Quest Drops 'People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm' - XXL". XXL. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Lewis, Miles (October 1998). "After the Love is Gone". The Source. L. Londell McMillan. 
  3. ^ a b Coleman 2007, p. 436.
  4. ^ Coleman 2007, p. 438.
  5. ^ a b c d e Coleman 2007, p. 439.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Allen, Harry. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm 25 Anniversary Edition (liner notes) date=November 13, 2015 (Media notes). 
  7. ^ Coleman 2007, p. 441.
  8. ^ Coleman 2007, p. 439-440.
  9. ^ Coleman 2007, p. 440.
  10. ^ a b c Hunt, Dennis (March 6, 1990). "A Tribe Called Quest 'People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm', Jive/RCA". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c McCann, Ian (May 5, 1990). "A Tribe Called Quest – People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths of Rhythm". NME. Archived from the original on October 12, 2000. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c Sandow, Greg (March 30, 1990). "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Ex, Kris (November 13, 2015). "A Tribe Called Quest: People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  14. ^ Bush, John. "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm – A Tribe Called Quest". AllMusic. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Tanzilo, Robert (April 26, 1990). "A Tribe Called Quest People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (Jive)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Eddy, Chuck (April 19, 1990). "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  17. ^ Hoard (2004), p. 822.
  18. ^ a b "A Tribe Called Quest: People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm". The Source. 3 (4). 1990. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 31, 1990). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  20. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest People's Instinctive Travels by Paths and Rhythms". Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  21. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 
  22. ^ a b "Les 100 albums des années 1986 - 1996". Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  23. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  24. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest – Chart history" Billboard 200 for A Tribe Called Quest. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  25. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest – Chart history" Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for A Tribe Called Quest. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  26. ^ "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

External links[edit]