Hip-Hop: Celebrate Wu, Tribe Silver Anniversaries

A Tribe Called Quest‘s Midnight Marauders was commercially successful, artistically adept, and lyrically inventive; the album cemented their status as alternative rap’s prime sound merchants, authors of the most original style since the Bomb Squad first exploded on wax.

John Bush, allmusic.com

2018 can be looked at as an embarassment of riches for Hip-Hop fans.

In general we’ve spent this year listening to quite a bit of current music worth a damn, arguably more than the average year in the 21st century, with music made both by attention-seeking youngsters and self-assured vets.

But just as important as it is to maintain a trendy ear in Hip-Hop, you also got to pay respects to those who achieved greatness previously, especially if you lived through said greatness.

Just over a month ago we saluted the unique day of September 29, 1998 as maybe having the widest impact of any release day in Hip-Hop’s history, but the most bang for one’s buck might have came on November 9, 1993 when A Tribe Called Quest released its heralded third album, “Midnight Marauders” and the Wu-Tang Clan released its classic debut “Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.”

There’s a lot of context that could be applied to that day and to the music showcased on that day, which is now 25 years in our collective rear view, but it would seem to be enough to observe the celebrations going on throughout social media and the internet at large to salute these groups and their out-sized impacts on popular (not necessarily pop) music.

In 2018 the Wu can appear on Good Morning America with no irony involved and be saluted by their home Staten Island with a day in their honor while the Tribe can be seen as honest forefathers of modern jazz and soul who through their meticulous combining of new and old styles forged ground for a whole class of artists existing in multiple generations since. 

Today is a day to salute and listen to good music, so let us not waste too much more of your time. In the words of the Midnight Marauders Tour Guide: “keep bouncing.”

As Tribe cultivated a chilled out-but-sophisticated approach, the Clan were lyrical swordsmen decapitating MCs over gritty loops held together with Kung-Fu flick samples. The raw flavor pulled listeners into a whole world that these nine street poets had meticulously created together. Pulling from multiple boroughs across New York City, Wu created a cinematic underbelly in Shaolin. It was as straight-no-chaser world where anything could go wrong—but a band of brothers could form a circle, and attack the conventions of the industry, the sweetness in Rap music, and the listener’s eardrum all at once.

Jordan Commandeur, Ambrosia For Heads

#WU25 playlist as compiled by WARR editorial director Kyle Means:

Was 1993 the greatest year in music? Ask that question to someone who was in high school or college that year, and the answer might be yes. To those of you now in your late 30s and early 40s, grunge is your classic rock, and Snoop Dogg’s Doggstyle and Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), are your go-to hip-hop classics.That year also saw the release of some watershed debuts including Exile In Guyville by Liz Phair, Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow, August and Everything After by Counting Crows, Bikini Kill’s Pussy Whipped, Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, and Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) from Digable Planets. Alt-rock was still hanging on as the flavor of the moment with The Breeders’ Last SplashIn Utero by Nirvana, Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam’s Vs., and U2’s Zooropa.

Bruce Warren, NPR, 25 Years Later Was 1993 The Greatest Year In Music?
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