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Phife Breaks Down His Ten Favorite A Tribe Called Quest Songs

Song: “Electric Relaxation”
Album: Midnight Marauders
Year: 1993
[Sings the sample] “Mystic Brew.” Just that part alone, and then the way Tip put the drums underneath, it was crazy. We used to have equipment in my grandmother’s basement when we were working on Midnight Marauders. I just remember coming home from somewhere—my grandmother gave him a key, the whole nine, he used to just go in and do his thing—I came home from some type of trip and I walked in the kitchen, and you know, he’s in the basement and you could hear the music coming up, and all I heard was that. I didn’t even say hello to my grandmother or whoever was in the house, I was just like, “Hold on!” and went downstairs. “Yo, what the hell is that?!” He was like, “Yo, that shit is crazy, right?” And it just became what it is now. That’s one of my favorite, favorite, favorite Tribe songs. On that record, he wrote my lines and I wrote his—actually, we wrote our own lines, and when we recorded, we traded. That’s why the whole back and forth, you know what I mean?

Song: “Buggin’ Out”
Album: Low End Theory
Year: 1991
One of my favorite songs, to perform, as well. When the album was fresh and new and we were on tour with it—on the Public Enemy tour, matter of fact—that bassline used to come in crazy. So “Buggin’ Out” is definitely on that list. We used to start the show with either that or “Steve Biko,” and we used to win.

Song: “Clap Your Hands”
Album: Midnight Marauders
Year: 1993
That and “God Lives Through,” which was just smooth, it was just laid back. But we don’t perform [“Clap Your Hands”] that a lot for some reason, I like performing that record. I like it, [so I perform it solo]. [Laughs]

Song: “Check The Rhime”
Album: Low End Theory
Year: 1991
That’s my all-time favorite Tribe record. For the simple fact that—call me selfish or whatever—that was the song that set off my coming out party on Low End Theory. ‘Cause if you judge by the People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm album, it was like, “What what the hell does he do? He don’t do nothing.” That was just the consensus on Phife Dawg or whatever. So when Low End came out and “Check The Rhime” was the first single, it was like, “Oh, okay, so he can rhyme.” I hold that closest to my heart. No “El Segundo,” none of that, looking all crazy in the video. [Laughs] Even though that was a really fun video, it was one of the most fun videos we ever did.


Song: “8 Million Stories”
Album: Midnight Marauders
Year: 1993
I don’t know if I could say it’s one of my favorites—I definitely like it—but I don’t know if it’s one of my favorites. But we definitely had a lot of fun recording that, ’cause I was just being silly. [Laughs] Making up, thinking of different scenarios to have a fucked up day, you know what I’m saying? So we put it together, Tip did the hook, Skeff Anselm did the beat, and it came together pretty dope. It’s definitely a song that I like, but I don’t know if I’d put it on the top ten.

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