A Tribe Called Quest “The Chase, Part II”

Recently I met up with some old friends and we did the long-time-no-see-Cooley High-reunion thing and drove through our home city in northern Jersey to gawk at our old haunts and reminisce before heading out to NYC for drinks. I was the driver and only one kind of music is perfectly suited for a black ’08 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, so our high school comfort food album Midnight Marauders thumped as we drove past the sites of all of our coming of age experiences. I’ve heard the album so many times that listening to it is almost as intuitive an act as driving itself; I can listen to it and recite every word, reach the end of the disc, and not remember a single second of the experience. This time was different, though. Despite the distraction of being among old friends chattering endlessly, when the “The Chase, Part II” came on it moved right to the forefront of all sound in the vehicle, and it dawned on me that the song is Tribe’s most underrated album cut. Q-Tip changed the sample source (look it up yourself) from sultry bedroom R&B into the sound of a mystic natural high, and then proceeded to rap exactly like a man possessed by some euphoric spirit, his words beautifully devolving into the joyous halfway nonsensical, patois-spiced patter that would characterize most of Grand Puba’s 2000 album. And yeah, he shouts out Puba, who was probably right there in the session, showing support. There’s no subliminal intricacy here whatsoever, just blissed out Native Tongue silliness done smoothly. Q-Tip declares his crew “the enchantment on the airwaves,” three duns from Queens in love with making music and convincing hundreds of thousands to hold on to every word, to embrace camaraderie and optimism. When I hear a similar free for all elation in the music of artists like Lil’ Wayne, Curren$y, Lil B, and A.G., I remember that this rap shit is still going as strong as anything worth remembering or revisiting. — Thun

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