Talib Kweli Shares The Story Of His Teenage Meeting With A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad

On last week’s episode of People’s Party with Talib Kweli, Kweli and guest Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest have a conversation about the day they first met. Kweli even shares a photo he took from that day with Kweli, Ali, and Jarobi as he tells the story of the encounter.

Kweli was 15 at the time and he and his friends were trying to get into a club called The Building, known for legendary rapo shows. Hip-hop icon KRS ONE was recording a live Boogie Down Productions show and Kweli and his boys were trying to get in. They were hanging around out front when they scored a chance meeting with ATCQ member Jarobi.

“I was there from like nine, until eleven- waiting outside,” Kweli says. “Me and my friends dressed like we were in A Tribe Called Quest. Here come you and Jarobi. Jarobi saw us trying to get in and was like [telling security] ‘Let these lil n***** in!’ So they let us in. And I got pictures of you, me, and Jarobi.”

Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s blend of tight drums, stylish jazz, and mellow breaks helped define hip-hop in the 1990s. With A Tribe Called Quest he created timeless hip-hop albums like Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, among others. His anthology of music includes work with Yasiin Bey, Faith Evans, D’Angelo, and others. He also served as co-producer for the hypnotic theme song for the Luke Cage soundtrack, working with longtime collaborator Adrian Younge.

Thinking back to the era Kweli and Muhammad met, Ali says, “That was a really good time in hip-hop. In New York City, specifically. There was a lot going on. And The Building was not too far from Jive [the record label head offices]. It reminds me of hanging out with our contemporaries. And hearing other people’s music drop- and feeling excited. Like if Gangstarr dropped or Brand Nubian… We’d dream like ‘One of these days!’ but then in ‘91 the day was there for us.”

Watch this powerful conversation right now. People’s Party with Talib Kweli with co-host Jasmin Leigh is found on YouTube and the audio is available at Luminary.