Last week, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest’s seminal album, The Low End Theory, and after spending quality time with the LP, it became clear that many artists may have snagged sonic gems from the trendsetting hip-hop quartet over the years. If you’re a fan of rap music, you already know that sampling and re-working existing songs is commonplace in the creative process; similar to contemporary art’s idea of the “readymade,” producers will lift elements from one song and add them to a new canvas to re-envision their use. But what happens when the same thing is done with lyrics?
One little-known fact: Lil’ Wayne’s“A Milli” is a slowed-down sample of one of Phife’s lines from a remix of “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” off Tribe’s first album, 1990’s Peoples’ Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Sometimes referred to as swagger-jacking, a rapper re-purposing the bars of artists before him or her can in other circumstances be seen as a salute-beckoning sign of respect. And in Tribe’s case, it should be! In addition to sitting down with ATCQ for their first joint interview since 1998, we also got to chat individually with in-and-out, behind-the-scenes group member Jarobi White to scoop his brains for memories on the group’s incredible second album. In honor of its Album-Versary, we present you with Jarobi’s exclusive interview clips, and the Top 5 Recycled Lines From The Low End Theory.
5. Recycled Line On: YC’s “Racks” Jacked From: ATCQ’s “Buggin’ Out”
Before “racks on racks on racks,” there were “styles upon styles upon styles.” It might be a loose interpretation, especially since YC hails from Georgia and was only six-years-old when Low End dropped, but we couldn’t ignore the potentially-borrowed theme of piling things on top of… things.
4. Recycled Line On: Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” Jacked From: ATCQ’s “Butter”
Spicy Pep said “Good men are hard to find” on 1994 En Voguecollaboration single “Whatta Man,” but three years earlier, Tribe’s five-footer Phife Dawg said the same thing in regards to the female species. So much for Mars and Venus, it looks like we’re all stuck with each other here on Earth!
3. Recycled Line On: DMX’s “What These Bitches Want” Jacked From: ATCQ’s “Butter”
Rappers love gloating about their successful sexual conquests, and there’s no manner more specific than doing so with a list! Outdoing Phife’s eight names, Dark Man X spends almost an entire verse on “What These Bitches Want” airing out a whopping fourty-three ladies (or fourty-five if you count all three Kims).
2. Recycled Line On: Kid Rock’s“Bawitdaba” Jacked From: ATCQ’s “Rap Promoter”
You know the line we’re talking about. Is it possible that “Bawitdaba da bang a dang, diggy-diggy-diggy said the boogy, said up jump the boogy” could have been inspired by Q-Tip’s playful freestyle?
1. Recycled Line On: Nicki Minaj’s“Roman’s Revenge” Jacked From: ATCQ’s “Scenario”
Ruh! Ruh! Like a dungeon dragon! By far the largest and most buzzed-about lyrical re-purposing is Nicki Minaj’s male alter-ego hook on “Roman’s Revenge,” coming from Busta Rhymes’verse on legendary posse cut, “Scenario.” Happy to share cultural roots with hip hop’s YMCM princess, Phife had this to say of Nicki during our Low End interview:
“I’m flattered in particular with the Nicki Minaj version for the simple fact that, not only is she from the area in which me, Q-Tip and Jarobi are from, but she’s also from the island that I’m from, so I was real happy about that. Not to mention that, like I said earlier, I can’t even fathom that its 20 years [later], and the love continues to come our way like it’s nothing.”
Since we’re already paying homage to Tribe, feel free to go more in-depth with Jarobi’s interview clips below and, by all means, let us know if there are other lyrical references from The Low End Theory that we missed! Covering everything from their dealings with DJ Red Alert, to why he thinks Q-Tip’s a genius, to Tribe’s worship of Queens, Jarobi brings you into ATCQ’s early days through his own unique and often-comedic lens.