EWA100 - #72. A Tribe Called Quest - Award Tour

72. A Tribe Called Quest - Award Tour (Jive. 1993. From the LP Midnight Marauders)

Mike Dikk: I remember buying the cassingle of this when it first came out. Kids have it easy these days. I wish I grew up in a time where buying cassingles wasn’t even an option. Microsoft Word doesn’t even recognize “cassingle” as a word! It’s a completely obsolete music format just like the 8 track.
Tribe was coming off a bonafide classic album and this was their first single to the follow up. Since very few rappers or rap groups ever come out with two classic albums, I thought this would be great, but not essential. I was definitely wrong though. Midnight Marauders was another classic album. It wasn’t as dusty and raw sounding as Low End Theory, but they used the extra money in their recording budget to their advantage. Plus Phife Dog managed to learn how to passably rap on this record and it was quite a surprise for me.
I listened the fuck out of this song, along with the entire record. I was still young and full of glee at the time, and my idea of a fun time was playing Super Mario Kart and drinking Snapples. I still thought drugs and alcohol were gross and I had no social skills so talking to girls was completely out of the question. All I needed was A Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, my SNES, my bedroom located in my mother’s basement and some Snapple god dammit.
Sadly, this is still the kind of lifestyle a lot of internet personalities lead, and it’s really weird to me. I mean, after a while I stopped being 15 and I discovered girls and stuff. Sometimes I do think discovering girls made things a lot more complicated and I wish being in a basement bedroom with a bunch of cassingles and an SNES is all I would need to keep my mind right, but then I snap out of it. Now I know what I really need is some weed, mp3s, a PS2 and a comfortable couch in my low rent apartment to be happy. Oh, and A Tribe Called Quest helps too.

Raven Mack: Dre and Wu Tang had already come out by this point, so I was not into all that hippie rap. And by this point I had developed a weird pet peeve against whispering rappers, of which I'd say Q-Tip is probably the godfather of. Something about hearing people whispering makes me want to slice their ears off with a 14-inch Rambo knife, so that they don't feel the need to over-use their aural senses anymore and can talk like fuckin' regular people at a normal decibel. So when someone does this on a musical track, on purpose, it seems extra annoying to me. And to be fair, I doubt Q-Tip is actually whispering like a Bahamadia or whichever of the Yin Yang Twins is the annoying whispering one on that stripper love song (HA! I know, which one?), he's probably just got a really stupid voice to start with. But whatever, I'm sure it's gotten him far more white sugarwalls than I could ever dream of even looking at if I became an obsessive compulsive porn collector with autographed glossies of my favorite "starlets".
However, even though I did not get into the Tribe like every other white person who has ever loved rap music did, one thing about this song got me sprung - the infectious beat. (NOTE: I have a personal challenge to myself that if I can drop two stupid and over-used clichéd phrases or terms withint a five word span, I allow myself fifteen bucks to go buy two "mixtapes" at the Cherry Avenue Barber Shop; thus the usage of "sprung" and "infectious beat" so close together. I probably, without this personal goal, kept the "sprung" part and overthought a clever synonym for "infectious" because seriously, that term's played out like a music critic's homosexuality.) I think this falls into the period of my life where me and my boy Boogie Brown shared a house with a straight edge punk and a crazy guy, both of which hardly hung out at the house because one dude was crazy and the other hated the lifestyle me and Boogie Brown had developed at the crib. Namely, we smoked a lot of pot, listened to a lot of rap, played with the new Super Nintendo we had bought with pot money because we also sold pot. It was good times. And we'd blow tons of money on 12-inch singles every week. Man, like 1991 through 1994 was such a great period for hip hop when it came to singles. People were throwing in unreleased B-sides, bonus remixes, instrumentals for the original plus remix... good times for a hip hop head with said head full of reefer smoke. Me and Brown would get stuck on certain instrumentals like mad. "Award Tour" was one of the long-time members of that ever-evolving list. Another was "L.I. Groove" who I can't even remember the song was done by. But the instrumental is awesome. I miss those days, not only the lack of personal attachment to responsibility on my part, but hip hop's part as well. It was such a carefree music that was just starting to become the completely marketable form it would develop into, where it was just starting to be rapping Colonel Sanders cartoon characters in commercials and shit, and R&B hadn't completely become a watered-down hip hop yet. This was hip hop's teen years, where it was hitting maturity, which unfortunately means it had to sell-out to get a job.
And yeah, Phife got to be quite entertaining at this point, because you knew he had the potential to really suck because of his past, but he didn't anymore, yet his style was still kind of oddball, coming at you like a left-handed knuckleballer, and it a fun foil to Q-Tip's hippie girl vagina hair-dampening vocals.
It's funny, because this list has made me miss a lot of the old ways shit was done, but actually just thinking about this instrumental and that time period probably filled me with more sad reflection upon hip hop than any other point in this list thus far. I would think the internet would agree that the bling thug coke pop child's nursery rhyme rap is pretty shitty, but for me, a lot of the internet-tingling indie shit - though an alternative to the mainstream - a lot of it is very similar and lacks anything to set it apart from everything else just like it. It's as if just setting yourself apart from the mainstream is good enough, so you have this big mass of shitty mainstream shit that's close enough to being the same for me not to care, and this harder-to-unearth big mass of shitty underground shit that's close enough to being the same for me not to care. And even the "experimental" shit is usually experimenting in similar ways to other shit. It makes me sad, but probably shouldn't, because it means that one, I'm probably out of touch, and two, I won't be spending all my money on the material acquisition of music, which is good because I'm pretty lazy when it comes to self-employment and I need to spend what money I have on a new bike for my kid's birthday.
And that brings up something else that's been in my mind lately. I mean, I've been thinking how there needs to be rap music for grown folks, as hip hop's come that far, following the early '90s being the teen years. You can't just say a music form is only for the youth, or you lose out on so many creative options that come with age. But then you hear crap like Jay-Z's "thirty is the new twenty" or whatever the fuck it is, and Nas's better than Jay-Z but still kind of weak "waaah, whatever happened to obscure rap dude who's 12-inch I loved in 1989? How come he's not got a platinum medallion, we should totally start up a retired rappers pension plan like the NBA" nonsense. Is that what grown folks' hip hop is gonna be? Because I was kinda hoping for something more along the lines of Big Daddy Kane cleverly singing the praises of soul food buffets or Kool G. Rap just being Kool G. Rap at age 40 on a record, not shit like that. Hell, I'd settle for more grown folks shit like Brand Nubian's The Foundation record. But probably all I'll get is like weird reunion tours with overpriced tickets where they perform all their old songs and everybody's happy to get a retro-buzz topped off with $7 beers. I should probably just stay in my camper behind the house, turn on the red light, drink some red-eyes, smoke a little bowl, and listen to instrumentals on my shitty Numark.

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