In August, ATCQ did our last show FOR Cali. It’s only right we do our FINAL 2 joints where we started…NYC
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) October 15, 2013
Roughly five weeks ago the most renowned member of A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip, shot that tweet out. He was referring to Wednesday night (Nov. 20) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and this Sunday (Nov. 24) at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden. The two are supposedly the thoughtful, iconic hip-hop crew’s final pair of concerts, where they function as Kanye West’s mighty opening act for “Yeezus.”
Before I begin with any sort of conventional review, let one thing be known: Not one ATCQ fan believes they’re calling it quits. Sure, they’ve quibbled before—even documenting their troubles via film. Still, on stage they’re as able as they are hailed in the genre. And on Wednesday evening, they proved why they’d be foolish to pass up on at least one more summer on the festival trail—hopefully what they’ll do after this inevitably brief “retirement” of sorts.
In a camouflage military jacket, a black sleeveless “Midnight Marauders” (their 1993 album) tee, matching leather sweatpants and a pair of Air Jordan 1s, Q-Tip was spry at Barclays. At 43 (months younger than Jay Z, for context’s sake), he’s more than physically capable of rocking the crowd that was still pouring in when their set began, just shy of 8 p.m.
And though the other MCs in the clique—Phife Dawg and Jarobi White—looked as if time had robbed them a bit of some athletic ability, they still caught decent air while jumping for choreographed steps on songs like “Excursions” from their 1991 album “The Low End Theory” and easily bopped along the stage for “Bonita Applebum” from their debut effort, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.” The latter featured a curvy, painted woman in “Marauder” black red and green sauntering back and forth, a well-appreciated act of literalism.
The energy boomed greater with DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad spinning their classic “Scenario” and fellow New York spitter Busta Rhymes roaring out to rap his verse in dragon-like fashion. Next was “Check the Rhime,” with Q-Tip thrusting to the front before starting his story: “Back in the days on the boulevard of Linden…”
They wrapped with “Award Tour,” followed by Tip bidding adieu. “We appreciate y’all,” he said somewhat somberly. “We love y’all.” Their last show is just days away. They’ve said the end was coming before. Then they reunited in 2006. So it’s important to say, again: No one think’s Tribe’s actually calling it quits.
They’ve got too many jams. They’re still dope. Festival bookers like dope. Coachella, Rock the Bells, Lollapalooza and others pay well for Tribe’s type of excellence—the kind of quality that would make headliner Kanye West admit that he was “inspired by Tribe Called Quest and shit” two hours into his Broadway-dramatic showing.
When Tribe got off, Q-Tip returned to Twitter.
NYC! It don’t stop!
— QTip (@QtipTheAbstract) November 20, 2013
With that spirit, the Queens, NY collective hopefully won’t either. We love them, too.