Recently at the forum, Jaz (of CDRS fame) devised a poll that asks respondents to choose between two of 1993’s landmark albums, Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage and A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders. I was initially fearful that the discussion would devolve into a battle of ad-hominem attacks and unsubstantiated claims, with one camp singing the praises of dark griminess and the other championing meander positivity. Both albums are lauded by cultish fan followings and bolstered by the nearly universal acclaim of established critics.
Enta Da Stage Vs. Midnight Marauders
Marauders is the more widely known, and thus more celebrated album. It is also the more polished production effort and few would disagree that it sounds sophisticated and modern to this day. Enta Da Stage is rougher and almost comically dark in tone. This is not to say that Tribe doesn’t flirt with characteristic early ’90s dark griminess — Midnight is pretty much the sonic and lyrical blueprint for much of Mobb Deep’s early career, as I argue here. But let’s be real – Enta Da Stage‘s lyrics are full of brooding menace, while Tribe’s rhymes run the gamut from optimistic to mystic to downright silly.
There’s little doubt in my mind that both groups were fans of each other’s work. It is well known that Q-Tip went beat digging with Evil Dee and Mr. Walt during this time. Phife identifies Black Moon as one of his favorite rap crews in the Marauders liner notes. Enta Da Stage sounds very much like The Low End Theory‘s more thugged out kid brother. Even Buckshot’s typically melodic and laid back styles seem to be influenced by the Q-Tip’s talky flow; his more aggressive performances (and those of Five Foot Accelerator) remind one at times of Phife’s simplistic but effective technique. Both albums are filled with jazz samples that are stripped down to their most essential groove, in some cases beyond recognition.
Can one of these albums be said to be inherently superior to the other? It’s a tough call and the thread in question has proven to be somewhat contentious. What’s your opinion? Let us know in the comments section here or over at the forums.
For the record, I listen to Marauders more these days, but who can front on “Slave” or “Niguz Talk Shit”?