Phonte, Jean Grae, Buckshot & More Reflect On The Importance Of 'Midnight Marauders'


A host of influencers spanning hip-hop culture have offered commentary on the impact and importance of A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders LP to commemorate the groundbreaking album's twentieth anniversary for Myspace. The project, which landed two years after Tribe's seminal LP The Low End Theory, arrived alongside the Wu-Tang Clan's debut LP Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers on November 9, 1993; both projects would serve as the unofficial catalysts of a creative shift in hip-hop that precipitated the release of a staggering amount of classic material in the years immediately following as rising artists dropped staggering amounts of heat.

The album featured a symbiotic performance from Phife Dawg and Q-Tip highlighted by harmonic wordplay, dope hooks and infectious production best exemplified by the suffocating grooves on joints like "Electric Relaxation", "Lyrics To Go", "Oh My God" and "Sucka N*gga" - just a few of the gems on a project packed with standouts. Midnight Marauders' stated goal was to capture ears. The project met that mark at its release and has continued to steal the hearts of hip-hop fans with a sound that was as authentic as it was unique, ultimately cementing ATCQ as a pillar of hip-hop culture whose presence would permanently change the game. Myspace gathered quotes from 15 artists to demonstrate the very personal and long-lasting impact the project has had on practitioners of the culture despite age, race, gender, or devotion to sub-genre. Contributors include Phonte, Jean Grae, Buckshot, Don Cannon, Curren$y, RJD2, Oddisee, Hiatus Kaiyote, Salaam Remi and others. Check a few of the hip-hop quotables below to get a taste of the conversation. Scroll down for more (and if Midnight Marauders changed your life, wear your Native Tongue affiliation on your back/chest/sleeve with our MM crewneck, not to mention a grip more ATCQ-related gear newly up for grabs in the OKP shop).

Name: Phonte

Age: 34

Hometown: Greensboro, N.C.

Favorite Midnight Marauders Song: “Electric Relaxation”

The first time I heard Midnight Marauders I was on the bus on my way to a wrestling match. I was in ninth grade in high school. I had the tape and for some reason I just put it in and the introduction came on—[Mimics female announcer voice] “Hello, this is your Midnight Marauder program…”—and I was like, What is this shit? It’s crazy! I let it play and I remember turning the tape over and hearing “Electric Relaxation” and, man, it was over. I don’t even remember if we won the wrestling match that day.

Name: Jean Grae

Age: 36

Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa

Favorite Midnight Marauders Song: “Electric Relaxation”

[The album] was, of course, the shit that you get and everyone is at school blasting it the next day and discussing it and it was mind blowing. I had already started writing stuff and thought, “Man, if only I was fucking cool enough to be on the cover. I want to be on the cover of this.” I honestly think that it’s the only time I can remember being like, “I want to be a rapper.” By the way, Opio is the best on the cover. That’s not up for debate. It’s just a fact. The album is perfect. It’s a perfect album—not perfect for rap, perfect for an album. Everything about it: The voice guide, the rollercoaster of emotions and tones, the sequencing, the chemistry and balance between Tip and Phife, the guests, the beats, the mixing. Oh, that was a huge deal for me, the mixing. Bob Power [who mixed most of the record] is one of the best people on the planet. Not that I hadn’t heard Bob Power’s work before this but the beauty of what he did on this album is just insane. Bob on this album made me want to learn how to be an engineer, so I kinda left school, got my GED and went directly to Sam Ash Music Institute specifically because of this.

Name: Buckshot

Age: 43

Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Favorite Midnight Marauders Song: “Oh My God”

It was a real dark album but at the same time it gave you a melodic feel. You had songs like [raps,] “Hey sucka nigga, whoever you are/Hey sucka nigga, whoever you are.” That was real melodic and jazzy and something about that really did something to me, just like ”Electric Relaxation” really did something to me as an artist. And you have “Oh My God”! That song was like a game changer. That’s my favorite song on the album. I know that might be shocking to a lot of people but I just like the sound and the feel of it, and the fact that Busta’s killing it and bringing the hypeness to the song.

Listen to the album and read the full piece via Myspace. Purchase the Midnight Marauders LP via iTunes.