Review #43: The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest

Karla Clifton
2 min readFeb 24, 2021

#43: The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest

Okay. Maybe you need a crash course introduction to A Tribe Called Quest, like I did. There were four original members: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg (who died in 2016 of complications with diabetes), Ali Shaheed Muhammed, and Jarabi White. They rap over sweet jazz music. This was their second album. It took me a while to figure out what the “Low End” was, but according to this article it “is intended to refer both to the status of black men in society and to the bass frequencies in the music.” I guess that’s all you need to know.

This album just felt good to listen to. Know what I mean? I’ve talked about how inaccessible jazz is to me before but this album made me feel like I got it a little bit more.


“Excursions” — Oh yes, this song is just rapping over a beat, a bassline, and a horn. A lot of the songs are like this.

“Rap Promoter” — Lol this one made me giggle — I especially love it when he outlines all the food they want in their backstage rider.

“Verses from the Abstract” — Oh this one is sweet, and I always love when rap groups call out other rap groups. De La Soul! This one also features legendary jazz bassist Ron Carter, which is very legit.

“Show Business” — This song is all about how show biz sucks, but all it does is make it sound great.

“Vibes and Stuff” — They do indeed have the vibe.

“Check the Rhime” — This was the lead single! LOVE this — I’m also on point all the time.

“Everything is Fair” — Reminds me a lot of “Living For The City.”

“Jazz (We’ve Got)” — Okay I need to make more of an effort with jazz.

“What?” — Proof that rap is poetry even when it’s vulgar.

“Scenario” — HELL yeah! I love shouty rap choruses! So what’s the what’s the what’s the scenario! Oh my god, also the Barenaked Ladies call out the line Chickity Choco, the chocolate chicken in “One Week.” See, gems like that are the whole reason I’m doing this.


“Butter” — Hate songs telling women what to wear.

“Infamous Date Rape” YIKES.


No, this rocks! Not a fan of the date rape song! But that’s what I get for listening to an album from 1991.

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