On this day, September 24, in hip-hop history…
1991: Few albums have earned the reputation that A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory has enjoyed. In the 22 years since the album’s release, The Low End Theory is one of hip-hop’s most celebrated and enduring artistic achievements, continuing to win fans over with the album’s laid-back jazzy vibes, conversational lyrics and mellow cool.
The album was Tribe’s second effort after already building a respected reputation after the release of their debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels & The Paths Of Rhythms, a year prior. In the advent of the release, the group were often asked by interviewers if they feared a ”sophomore jinx”, frontman Q-Tip responded by saying “‘Sophomore jinx?’ What the fuck is that, I’m going to make The Low End Theory.” The group stepped their game up and created an album that was stripped to the bare essentials – vocals, drums and bass with a jazzy foundation that was built heavily from samples of jazz legends.
The album produced some of hip-hop’s most classic jams with songs like “Check The Rhime,” “Scenario” and “Jazz (We Got)” becoming essential tracks in the hip-hop canon. Over the years, Low End Theory has acknowledged as not only some of the finest rap albums ever but one of the greatest albums produced regardless of genre. For many, the album is as engineer Bob Power has described Low End Theory as “The Sgt. Pepper’s of hip-hop.”