Music

A Tribe Called Quest Just Played Their Last Show Ever

Is it really the end for one of alternative hip-hop’s pioneering groups?
IMAGE ATribeCalledQuest.com
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Few other artists can claim the kind of influence that A Tribe Called Quest has had on hip-hop. As one of the pioneers of alternative hip-hop, the Tribe brought jazzy beats and thoughtful, positive lyricism to the scene in the late 80s and into the 90s, subverting the genre’s established themes and creating a niche that was way ahead of its time.

They reunited in 2006 for a U.S. tour, and released their politically-charged sixth studio album, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, in 2016. But since the untimely passing of founding member Phife Dawg last year, they repeatedly announced that the Tribe would call it quits. Producer and frontman Q-Tip declared that We Got It From Here would be their last album; and at every stop of their recent tour, said that it would be their last show in that city. Last weekend, during their show at Bestival 2017 in southern England, Q-Tip finally closed the curtain and said it was their “last show as A Tribe Called Quest, ever.”

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While it’s sad to see them go, A Tribe Called Quest has had a good run. Their legacy is untouchable, and their work has helped shape hip-hop as we know it today. To commemorate their final show, take a look back at some of the Tribe’s past performances, over the course of a career than spans over three decades:

“Can I Kick It” at Showtime at The Apollo
The question-response refrain of "Can I Kick It"—"Yes you can!" is one of the Tribe's most iconic lyrics, and indeed one of their greatest songs. This performance at Showtime at The Apollo in 1990 shows how it can really get a crowd going.


“Bonita Applebum” at Showtime at The Apollo
The same evening, the Tribe performed another one of their greatest hits, Bonita Applebum.


“We The People” at Saturday Night Live
We Got It From Here was a politically-charged album, and many of Tribe's live performances in 2016 were outspoken against Donald Trump. Their SNL performance of "We The People" happened a few days after the winner of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections was announced, so they took it as an opportunity to make a stand.

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“We The People” at The 2017 Grammy Awards Night
The Tribe was even more outspoken at the 2017 Grammy Awards Night, joined by Busta Rhymes and Anderson.Paak, calling out Trump and his Muslim ban directly.


“1nce Again” Live at Late Night With Conan O’Brien
While hip-hop was torn between the East Coast and West Coast factions, songs like "1nce Again" were among few declarations of impartiality from alternative hip-hop groups. "1nce Again" is also the first A Tribe Called Quest song to feature co-production by the late great J Dilla.


“Electric Relaxation” at the Okayplayer 6th Annual Holiday Jam
The Tribe's music is characterized by smooth, minimal beats and melodies. "Electric Relaxation" is one of the greatest examples of that.


Live in Brooklyn
The look, feel, and sound of '90s hip-hop have had a special allure these days, with many artists trying to reference the genre's golden era. This performance in Brooklyn shows how it was really done back then.

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Miguel Escobar
Assistant Features Editor for Esquire Philippines
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