Love. What a beautifully dangerous word. Some kid from Queens, NY once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that love changes, and best friends become strangers. Ironically, he said that a couple years before even a hint of bad blood surrounding one of Hip-Hop’s most beloved groups, fellow Queens natives A Tribe Called Quest, became public knowledge. Just prior to the release of the The Love Movement, Tribe let the public know that it would serve as its final album. Internal strife and label drama finally taking its toll on the quartet turned trio, the fifth and final album is the last glance we have of an institution that, in its short history, gave each of us so much. If not as freewheeling and loose as People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, innovative as The Low End Theory, dynamic and complete as Midnight Marauders, or somber as Beats, Rhymes & Life, The Love Movement was still stamped with the indelible-DNA that made Tribe, Tribe. It was as good as a breakup could be; allowing you to look back fondly at the good times, without leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.
The Love Movement marked the end of an era in more ways than one. Released the same year that DMX’s two albums buried Ma$e’s shiny suit before he could get much wear out of it, Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life Vol. 2 catapulted him into superstardom, and a new era of griminess pushed collectives like the Natives Tongues over the old school edge, the Linden Boulevard crew’s last offering served as both a swan song and the ushering in of a new regime. Armed with warm, bassline-heavy, production from would-be Hip-Hop deity J. Dilla as the most prominent member of The Ummah, and peppered with simple, heartfelt, back and forth, lyrics from Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, The Love Movement was a refreshing palate-cleanser and reminder of a spirit that we have yet to truly revisit in over a decade.
Less sonically ambitious then past efforts, The Love Movement was dominated by simple basslines, snappy snares, and little else. This sound was perfected on the classic single and video, “Find A Way.” Encapsulating everything we love about this group in about three minutes and thirty seconds, “Find A Way” was simultaneously laid back and aggressive, raunchy and wholesome, street savvy and smart. Showcasing an uncanny ability to make real emotional connections to the listener, the bouncy track was able to bottle that initial, irresistible, sense of romantic attraction that we chase like a junkie’s first high.
Features like former Native Tongues B-teamer turned superstar Busta Rhymes on “Steppin’ It Up,” Iraq-shooter N.O.R.E. on the Queens anthem “Give Me,” and Lyricist Lounge alumni Mos Def, Punchline & Wordsworth, and Jane Doe on the freestyle free-for-all “Rock Rock Yall” showed that Tribe was not disconnected from the future of hip-hop, but was rather a constant influence and source of inspiration.
In 2008, ten years following the release of The Love Movement, Tribe reunited to give their still rabid fanbase a reason to rejoice with a national tour. Director and uberfan Michael Rappaport traveled with the group and got a behind the scenes look at that tour, the inner workings of the internal and external relationships involved with the crew, and the unresolved conflict that remained a source of drama. Those recordings and interviews became Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest which is being released on Blu-Ray, DVD and is currently available for digital download on iTunes.
In addition to, OkayPlayer, Potholes In My Blog & GetRightMusic, The Smoking Section is participating in our own love movement to celebrate DVD release. We’re giving away special prizes including a RDH-GTK1i Hi-Fi Music System (seen in the image below) and Muteki™ Hi-Fi Music System. In order to enter and qualify, use the hashtag #BeatsRhymesLife. Find out the latest news about the contest and updates on the release of the movie by following @ATCQMovie and also @MichaelRapaport on Twitter.