Tuesday, November 9, 1993 was and is one of the biggest days in hip-hop history — it’s pretty much indisputable, thanks to two major releases that landed like bombs, stretching the possibilities of the nascent genre and building foundations for what was to come. One was Wu-Tang Clan’s indelible debut, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and it brought a gritty but wildly imaginative perspective informed by kung-fu movies and mafioso lingo that redefined East Coast gangsta rap and still has effects reverberating out throughout hip-hop to this day. Uproxx’s own Andre Gee already broke that one down with an excellent piece that deserves some of your time today.
The other was Midnight Marauders, A Tribe Called Quest’s third album and their most commercially successful. Tribe’s bonafides should be well known to any disciple of rap; they offered a jazzy, thoughtful alternative to the hardcore gangsta rap that was beginning to dominate the airwaves at the time, helping to spawn and define the subgenre of alternative hip-hop. At the same time, they shed the cartoonish Afrocentric costume of their debut, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, while sharpening the the bass-heavy aesthetic of their groundbreaking sophomore release, Low End Theory. Marauders also became the subject of controversy among hip-hop heads, many of whom argue that its predecessor represented Tribe’s best work.
So, on the 25th anniversary of Midnight Marauders‘ release, rather than delivering a retrospective of the album’s impact, which plenty of outlets are already doing, we’re going to try something different. I’m going to explain five reasons why Midnight Marauders is unequivocally A Tribe Called Quest’s best album, 25 years later. Buckle up, because we’re going to do like the Guide says and keep bouncing while we maraud for ears.