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  • Writer's pictureEmma Norton

Steve Biko (Stir it Up) - A Tribe Called Quest

Linden Boulevard represent, represent

Ahhh Tribe. So so good. Growing up, it would be their songs I would hear in passing until I delved into hip-hop on a deeper level. Digging in the crates, the classic line to explain the exploratory opportunities present within hip-hop as not only a musical genre, but a multifaceted historical goldmine.

I get into moments where I go to listen to one A Tribe Called Quest song then Spotify keeps playing, and I don't stop it. 

The jazz infusion present in their music is part of what made them stand out in their era and continues to hold them to a certain standard in hip-hop. Not to mention their lyrics being both timely and evolved. Q-Tip, the late Phife Dawg and Jairobi White (along with Ali Shaheed Muhammad as co-producer) are arguably some of the best lyricists of their time and always. It's an ongoing debate in music circles.

Q-Tip's verse in "Steve Biko (Stir it Up)" off of Midnight Marauders (1993) was the final choice I went for to share, but it was a tough one. This verse here is representative of that self-love kick I'm on and projecting through the blog. It's finding your own voice and unapologetically expressing yourself. Steve Biko, if you aren't familiar, was a South African anti-apartheid activist. He was at the forefront of the Black Consciousness Movement in the 60s and 70s. I remember watching Cry Freedom in school. The story stuck with me, and you happen to take the time to learn about him or watch the film, you will understand the power of using your voice, against all odds. 

I feel like hip-hop's vibrant history is almost mandatory to go back and become well versed in if you claim to be a fan now of the current roster. Maybe it's because it's been a focus of mine throughout my life, and I enjoy going back to the root of things if you can't tell. I would start with Tribe as you move through the different eras and the breakdown of the geographical divides that only in truth, amplify unique sounds. I don't think you find that in other musical genres. But a Tribe Called Quest holds an everlasting impact and any album you choose will set a mood for a vibe that promotes relaxed confidence from the lyrical delivery that will also pique your mental capacity and the beats will inevitably turn you into a bobblehead.

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