The Low End Theory
|The Low End Theory|
|Studio album by A Tribe Called Quest|
|Released||September 24, 1991|
|Recorded||1990-1991, Battery Studios, Greene Street Studios, Soundtrack Studios, and Jazzy Jay Studio.|
|Genre||Alternative hip hop, jazz rap|
|Label||Jive, RCA Records|
|Producer||A Tribe Called Quest, Skeff Anselm|
|A Tribe Called Quest chronology|
The Low End Theory is the second album by American hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Released on September 24, 1991 through Jive Records, the album produced three singles: "Check the Rhime," "Jazz (We've Got)," and "Scenario."
After A Tribe Called Quest's debut album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990), Jarobi White left the group to study culinary art. Phife Dawg learned that he was diabetic a month after the album's release and after a discussion with fellow member Q-Tip, they agreed to increase his participation on their second album and to "step it up in general as a group." Q-Tip credited N.W.A's album Straight Outta Compton (1988) as an inspiration for the record.
The group hired double bassist Ron Carter on the track "Verses from the Abstract". Q-Tip stated, "We wanted that straight bass sound, and Ron Carter is one of the premier bassists of the century." Carter agreed to record tracks on the condition that the group avoid profanity, to which Q-Tip assured they were addressing "real issues".
When asked by critics and interviewers if he was afraid of a "sophomore jinx", Q-Tip responded by saying "'Sophomore jinx?' What the fuck is that, I'm going to make The Low End Theory".
A track by the name "Georgie Porgie" was originally on the album, but was rejected by Jive Records for being "too homophobic". The track was rewritten as "Show Business", which was added to the album.
The Low End Theory was one of the first records to fuse hip hop with a laid-back jazz atmosphere. Ali Shaheed Muhammad along with Q-Tip and Phife Dawg are credited with showcasing how rap was done before commercial success influenced many rappers' creativity. The album's minimalist sound is "stripped to the essentials: vocals, drums, and bass." The bass drum and vocals emphasize the downbeat on every track. Engineer Bob Power has been quoted numerous times calling the album, "The Sgt. Pepper's of hip hop" referring to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released by The Beatles in 1967.
Reception and influence
|Christgau's Consumer Guide|||
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Great Rock Discography||7/10|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||10/10|
The Low End Theory helped shape alternative hip hop in the 1990s. It established the musical, cultural, and historical link between hip hop and jazz. The album was considered an instant classic with a 5 mics rating in The Source. Reviewer Reef lauded their "progressive sound" and "streetwise edge". Writer Oliver Wang called the album "a consummate link between generations", which took the essence of jazz and hip hop, and "showing they originated from the same black center." The group's "mellow innovations" helped jazz rap gain significant exposure from 1992 to 1993. Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 154 in "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", stating that "people connected the dots between hip-hop and jazz -- both were revolutionary forms of black music based in improvisation and flow -- but A Tribe Called Quest's second album drew the entire picture."
In Time magazine's "ALL-TIME 100" albums, Josh Tyrangiel called the record an exception to jazz rap often being "wishful thinking on the part of critics". He described the album as "socially conscious without being dull" and likened a few tracks to "smokey rooms where cool guys ... say cool things."The Low End Theory was voted at number thirty-two in The Village Voice's 1991 Pazz & Jop critics poll. AllMusic writer John Bush, who declared it "the most consistent and flowing hip-hop album ever recorded", summed up the record as "an unqualified success, the perfect marriage of intelligent, flowing raps to nuanced, groove-centered productions." On February 1, 1995, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album platinum. In 2005, comedian Chris Rock ranked it ninth on his Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums. Electronica artist James Lavelle cited The Low End Theory as one of his favorite albums.
In a less enthusiastic review, James Bernard from Entertainment Weekly was critical of the music's intellectual brand of hip hop, finding "little passion at the core" and calling it "the greatest hip-hop album that will never quicken my pulse". Village Voice critic Robert Christgau was also reserved in his praise, believing the group delivered "goofball rhymes" from a "well-meaning middle class" perspective while writing that "like so many 'beats,' Low End Theory's Ron Carter bass was really a glorified sound effect--what excited its admirers wasn't its thrust, or even the thrill of the sound itself, so much as the classiness it signified." He named "Check the Rhime" and "Buggin' Out" as highlights while giving the album a three-star honorable mention, indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure".
- All songs produced by A Tribe Called Quest, except tracks 6 and 10 produced by Skeff Anselm
|2.||"Buggin' Out"||Davis, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Malik Taylor||3:37|
|3.||"Rap Promoter"||Davis, Muhammad||2:13|
|4.||"Butter"||Davis, Muhammad, Taylor||3:39|
|5.||"Verses from the Abstract" (featuring Vinia Mojica and Ron Carter on double bass)||Davis||3:59|
|6.||"Show Business" (featuring Diamond D, Lord Jamar and Sadat X)||Skeff Anselm, Davis, Lorenzo Dechalus, Joseph Kirkland, Muhammad, Derrick Murphy, Taylor||3:53|
|7.||"Vibes and Stuff"||Davis, Taylor||4:18|
|8.||"The Infamous Date Rape"||Davis, Muhammad, Taylor||2:54|
|9.||"Check the Rhime"||Davis, Muhammad, Taylor||3:37|
|10.||"Everything Is Fair"||Anselm, Davis, Muhammad, Taylor||2:58|
|11.||"Jazz (We've Got)"||Davis, Muhammad, Taylor||4:10|
|12.||"Skypager"||Davis, Muhammad, Taylor||2:12|
|14.||"Scenario" (featuring Leaders of the New School)||Davis, Bryan Higgins, James Jackson, Muhammad, Trevor Smith, Taylor||4:10|
Bonus track versions
- 1997 Japan reissue
- 15. "Jazz (We've Got)" (Re-recording)
- 2006 Japan reissue
- 15. "Check The Rhime" (Remix)
Verses From the Abstract
Vibes and Stuff
The Infamous Date Rape
Check the Rhime
Everything Is Fair
Jazz (We've Got)
|The Arizona Republic||U.S.||8 Albums That VH1 Missed||2001||*|
|BigO||Singapore||The 100 Best Albums from 1975 to 1995||1995||78|
|Blender Magazine||U.S.||The 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time||2002||53|
|Dance de Lux||Spain||The 25 Best Hip-Hop Records||2001||10|
|Ego Trip||U.S.||Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980-98||1999||2|
|Fast 'n' Bulbous||U.S.||The 500 Best Albums Since 1965||*|
|Juice||Australia||The 100 (+34) Greatest Albums of the 90s||1999||61|
|Kitsap Sun||U.S.||Top 200 Albums of the Last 40 Years||2005||151|
|LostAtSea||U.S.||90 Albums of the 90's||2000||72|
|Mojo||U.K.||The Mojo Collection, Third Edition||2003||*|
|Music Underwater||U.S.||Top 100 Albums 1990-2003||2004||53|
|Paul Morley||UK||Words and Music, 5 x 100 Greatest Albums of All Time||2003||*|
|Pitchfork Media||U.S.||Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s||2003||56|
|Robert Dimery||U.S.||1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die||2005||*|
|Rock de Lux||Spain||The 150 Best Albums from the 90s||2000||128|
(guest article by
|USA||Top 25 Hip- Hop Albums ||2005||9|
|Rolling Stone||U.S.||100 Best Albums of the 90s||2010||36|
|Rolling Stone||U.S.||The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time||2003||154|
|Rolling Stone||U.S.||The Essential Recordings of the 90's||1999||*|
|Spex||Germany||The 100 Albums of the Century||1999||10|
|Spin||U.S.||100 Alternative Albums||1995||87|
|Spin||U.S.||Top 100 (+5) Albums of the Last 20 Years||2005||38|
|Spin||U.S.||Top 90 Albums of the 90's||1999||32|
|Stereophile||U.S.||Top 40 (+94) Essential Albums||2002||*|
|The Source||U.S.||The Source 100 best Hip-Hop Albums of All Time||1998||*|
|TIME||U.S.||The All-TIME 100 Albums||2006||*|
|Vibe||U.S.||100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century||1999||*|
|Vibe||U.S.||51 Albums Representing a Generation, a Sound and a Movement||2004||*|
|Zundfunk||Germany||The Best Albums of the 90's||2000||16|
- An asterisk (*) designates lists which are unordered.
Information is taken from Allmusic.
- Performance credits
- Bass – Ron Carter
- DJ – Ali Shaheed Muhammad
- Vocals – Phife Dawg, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown, Diamond D, Dinco D, Lord Jamar, Sadat X
- Technical credits
|UK Albums (OCC)||58|
|US Billboard 200||45|
|US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)||13|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- Greenwald, Jeff (2002). "Hip-Hop Drumming: The Rhyme May Define, but the Groove Makes You Move". Black Music Research Journal (Center for Black Music Research - Columbia College Chicago) 22 (2): 268. ISSN 0276-3605.
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- Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2002). All Music Guide to Jazz: The Definitive Guide to Jazz Music. Backbeat Books. p. 1416. ISBN 0-87930-717-X.
- "154) The Low End Theory". Rolling Stone (November 1, 2003). Accessed December 29, 2008.
- Tyrangiel, Josh (November 13, 2006). "The All-TIME 100 Albums". Time magazine. Accessed October 30, 2008.
- "The 1991 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll" (March 3, 1992). RobertChristgau.com. Accessed January 15, 2009.
- Bush, John. "allmusic ((( A Tribe Called Quest > Biography )))". Allmusic. Accessed January 15, 2009.
- http://www.chrisrock.com/category/top-25-albums. "It's really hard to top this album. They made other good records, but they never got to this level again. It is from beginning to end a masterpiece".
- http://thequietus.com/articles/06129-james-lavelle-unkle-favourite-records?page=4. Over The Years, The Low End Theory has been a staple in hip hop as classic. The Mix of jazz and rap was unheard of, Low End has been regarded as shaping some of the jazz rap groups of 90's like The Roots and Digable Planets and shaping the sound of Alternative Hip Hop in the 1990's.
- 100 Best Albums of the Nineties: A Tribe Called Quest, 'The Low End Theory' | Rolling Stone at the Wayback Machine (archived July 12, 2012)
- "allmusic ((( The Low End Theory > Credits )))". Allmusic. Accessed December 28, 2008.
- "A Tribe Called Quest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved November 4, 2016.
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- "A Tribe Called Quest – Chart history" Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for A Tribe Called Quest. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
- "American album certifications – A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH