Q-Tip Deep Dives Into His Obscure Sample Sources, ATCQ’s History And More On ‘Questlove Supreme’

Managing Hip-Hop Editor
01.25.17

Questlove’s Pandora show Questlove Supreme is obviously a music lover’s dream when we’re talking about a music renaissance man with a vast amount of info that covers so many genres, generations and more. But, when he’s matched with an equally astute interview subject like Q-Tip, there’s bound to be mounds of “nerd facts” dropped over the course of the show’s three hour duration.

Questlove’s stated purpose was to get Tip to identify the sample used on “Crooklyn Dodgers” — sorry, no spoilers — but the whole interview yielded so much more than that. He and co-hosts Phonte, DJ Brainchild, Bill Sherman, Laiya St. Clair, and Steven Mandel all manage to pepper the A Tribe Called Quest member with detailed questions about intricacies of the group’s dynamics, recording process and, of course, samples, which leads to many moments where people are taking turns mouthing beats individually and sometimes in unison.

They delve into the many different, often obscure sample sources the rapper-DJ-producer has used over the years in production work for all of the Tribe projects, Mobb Deep, Craig Mack, Nas, Apache and so many others. Tip also went into detail about the group’s relationship with legendary collaborator Bob Power and how he became their go-to engineer after their main guy went on a vacation, buying unreleased Prince bootleg vinyls, how the late Kid Hood’s sole recording was for the “Scenario (Remix)” because he was murdered a week after they cut the record and endless tales structured off gritty details that really need to be documented in either a book or a documentary.

Part of the convo centers around the recording of Beats, Rhymes and Life, what Tip calls “dark times” do to the growing divide between him and Phife Dawg. The album became the beginning of their unraveling as friends and a group. “I guess Phife and I were having our issues, and I converted to Islam,” Tips says. “Then I met Dilla, and just meeting him was just like a bright spot, and bringing him in on the record, and I brought Consequence on the record, so I guess everybody started feeling threatened.”

He continues, “I was all just happy go lucky: ‘No it’s a Tribe, everybody can come on, yell hey!’ I don’t think everybody was feeling that. But I just wanted to be more expansive. I felt like the way that hip-hop was starting to shift, even though we weren’t necessarily following the same course per se, I still wanted to put something in there that still represented a growth, if you would–or some sort of new elements, just we’re changing in our own way at the same time that the genre is changing.”

It’s not all dusty grooves as The Abstract talks about his present work with the likes of Solange for A Seat at the Table, revealing they’ve got more music tucked away. “Her and I have about 10 records together,” he said. “We were working on this shit. She went to Raphael [Saadiq] then she came back to me. I’ve always encouraged her to go. That’s my sis. I’m really happy for her.”

The dialogue goes many different ways, including a moment where Quest details how he won the only fistfight between him and Black Thought way back in the “Distortion to Static” days. There are other real lively moments where the whole group breaks into a moment where they’re grooving and belting out “the best R&B song of 1993,” Jade’s “Don’t Walk Away.”

Towards the end, Tip does go into how losing his childhood friend and partner in rhymes Phife affected him. He offers a few insights on how music helped get up to not only complete their last album together but also just to live, citing how standards from “Stevie, Herbie, EWF” helped him remain optimistic.

Even with a conversation that spans three hours, they only manage to scratch the surface of Tip’s musical history so they issued an invite for him to come back for another sitdown soon. Listen to what’s part one for now over on Pandora.

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