I was watching a hip hop documentary called ‘The Show’ the other day. Released in 1995, ‘The Show’ included interviews, backstage footage and performance clips from some of hip hop’s biggest names.
It’s been awhile since I watched the documentary so I only remember bits and pieces. But I was surprised that A Tribe Called Quest wasn’t included. So this week we’ll take a look back at Tribes iconic album ‘The Low End Theory’ for Throwback Thursday.
Throwback Thursday- The Low End Theory
Released in 1991, ‘The Low End Theory’ was Tribe’s second studio album. This album is considered a classic by many. At the time, it was Tribe’s most commercially successful album.
Tribe has never made commercial music, so for a group of their caliber to achieve commercial success was a big deal. It still is. ‘The Low End Theory’ was a departure from their first album. Lyrically, the album features social commentary, word play, humor and interplay between group members Q-Tip and Phife Dawg.
What About Album Sales?
Supported by the lead single Check the Rhime, The ‘Low End Theory’ debuted at number 45 on the Billboard 200 chart. Upon its release, the album’s commercial potential was doubted by music writers and Jive record executives. However, the release of two additional singles, Jazz (We’ve Got) and Scenario brought further attention and popularity to the group.
‘The Low End Theory’ was certified gold in 1992. By 1995 it was platinum. That may not sound huge by today’s standards but gold was a big deal for hip hop acts back then. And in the case of Tribe, it was huge.
But ‘Low End Theory’ was released during a time that some refer to as “the golden era of hip hop”. Most MCs were still making music for the fans with no thought of commercial success. So the project resonated with hip hop fans and ushered in a new era for hip hop. The Busta Rhymes feature on Scenario didn’t hurt either.
So What Did That Mean For Tribe?
Sadly, despite record sales group members reported in numerous interviews that they didn’t really profit financially from that album. Was it a bad deal, or standard practice? Who knows. But this album put A Tribe Called Quest on the map. After ‘The Low End theory’ their price definitely went up, and they continued to make music.
In the end, ‘The Low End Theory’ put them in a different league. The momentum created by that project allowed them to position themselves for a long and lucrative career. And they created a legacy in the process. How dope is that?
Do you remember where you were the first time you heard Check The Rhime? Check out the video below: