Queens rap trio A Tribe Called Quest
's career path looks strangely like a typical relationship. After being introduced by the Jungle Brothers, MCs Q-Tip and Phife Dawg showed chemistry on their metaphorical first date, the Native Tongues remix to De La Soul's "Buddy." With DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the honeymoon began, and the Tribe's first two albums -- People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
and Low End Theory
-- received prestigious five-mic ratings from The Source
. Things looked perfect for the happy trio: picnics in the park, sunset walks on the beach, touring with Lollapalooza and yet another classic album (1993's Midnight Marauders
). While the three readily embraced the clichés, dissing the wack MC and remembering birthdays, what made A Tribe Called Quest special was the attention to what many overlooked. Tracks like "Sucka Nigga," "The Infamous Date Rape" and "Stressed Out" were among the first to explore more complicated themes, setting the stage for the late-'90s conscious rap of Black Star and the Roots (and, much later, Jadakiss' "Why"). Everybody looked to the happy trio for inspiration. Tribe Called Quest would be going steady forever.
As with any relationship, things changed. 1996's Beats, Rhymes and Life was good but an unfocused far cry from the earlier days. While touring in support of the even-worse 1998 release, The Love Movement, the trio split up. Q-Tip seemed to have grown out of Tribe, dropping the club-happy Amplified in 1999. Phife played the role of disgruntled ex, dissing his former partner on his 2000 joint Ventilation. But they couldn't stay mad: Amid frequent reunion rumors, Phife and Q-Tip dropped a single last year, the expectation-exceeding "I.C.U." with Erykah Badu.
Now, though an album may be a ways off, the three have come back together for a three-stop reunion tour. Come out to the Pageant on October 28 and relive the glory days.