Key Samples: A Tribe Called Quest

Tribe Called Quest created universes by cobbling together post-bop saxophones, rolling bass lines, and hard boom bap beats, topping them off with Q-Tip’s fluid freeform rhymes that played an alto sax to the gruff, declarative blurts of Phife’s deceptively straightforward lyrics. As music nerds, we’d already digested the Velvet Underground and De La Soul, so we instantly got Tribe’s vibes and references, but blending these two opposing worlds—despondent, glamorous sleaze rock and idiosyncratic, jazz afrocentrism—was a revelation. Here’s a playlist of some of their best and most well-known samples, from RAMP to Lou Reed.