Beats Rhymes & Life



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Review Text With each of its first three albums, A Tribe Called Quest seemed to be on its way to bigger and better things, artistically and commercially. Beats, Rhymes and Life promptly ended that streak and still ranks as the group's most disappointing listen. Amplifying the bare beats-and-bliss of The Low End Theory but erasing the hooks of Midnight Marauders, Beats, Rhymes and Life simply wasn't a compelling record. In fact, A Tribe Called Quest sounded bored through most of it -- and, to put it bluntly, there wasn't much to get excited about either. Previously so invigorating and idea-driven, Q-Tip and Phife strutted through their verses, often sounding confused, hostile, and occasionally paranoid (check out the battle tracks, "Phony Rappers" and "Mind Power"). Meanwhile, the skeletal productions offered little incentive to decode the lyrics and messages, most of which were complex as expected. Though several other tracks had solid productions (like the spry, bass-driven backing to "Phony Rappers"), Beats, Rhymes and Life saw A Tribe Called Quest making its first (and only) significant misstep. (Constant touring off the success of Midnight Marauders may have been a factor.) Yes, they were still much better than the vast majority of alternative rappers, but it seemed they'd lost their power to excite. One of the few successes was a surprising R&B crossover called "1nce Again" (featuring Tammy Lucas). ~ John Bush

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Phony Rappers - 4:35
  2. 2. Get a Hold - 4:35
  3. 3. Motivators - 3:20
  4. 4. Jam - 5:38
  5. 5. Crew - 2:58
  6. 6. Pressure - 3:02
  7. 7. 1nce Again - 4:55
  8. 8. Mind Power - 4:55
  9. 9. Hop - 3:27
  10. 10. Keeping It Moving - 4:38
  11. 11. Baby Phife's Return - 3:18
  12. 12. Separate/Together - 2:38
  13. 13. What Really Goes On - 3:23
  14. 14. Word Play - 3:59
  15. 15. Stressed Out - 5:57

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