Hip-hop turns 44 today, and what better way for Colorado to celebrate than having hosted A Tribe Called Quest on the eve of its inception?
It was a bittersweet night, one filled with classics as well as new material from one of the flagbearers of 90s hip-hop. Before getting too sentimental from the jump, let’s go through the night as it unfolded.
Sam Dew Opens
I’m not one who knows much about R&B or Soul or anything in that realm of genres, but this guy is pretty talented. He performed for somewhere between 30-45 minutes and displayed a range that I’ve never heard in person before. He got about as high as you can get, and he had a very talented trio of musicians around him.
If you’re like me, you’ll be planning to explore more of his music over the coming months. Something that might jog your memory as to why you feel like you’ve heard him before can be found below:
A Tribe Called Quest takes the stage
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would see A Tribe Called Quest perform in Colorado again in my lifetime. The last time the whole crew was here was supposedly at the “Smokin’ Grooves 1996 Tour”, which included Busta Rhymes and his Flipmode Squad, Cypress Hill, The Fugees, Ziggy Marley, and Spearhead; needless to say, it clearly had to be a momentous occasion for the Native Tongues’ members to return to the Mile High City.
And that’s exactly what it was.
As the show opened up, a lone microphone stand stood front and center on the stage; an image of Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor appeared on the screens in the background. If you’ve paid attention to ATCQ at all over the past year, you know that the group is missing their five-foot assassin, as are every single one of us who cherishes this group.
After the expected roar from the crowd for Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi, Consequence and Q-Tip all made their way next to the mic stand, waving and smiling to the sold-out Red Rocks venue.
I fixate on this moment because from the moment the four living members of the group came out, this had all the makings of a special show. It was to be a celebration of their bandmate, and an unspoken understanding that all good things come to an end.
The music begins…
The show started out with a seamless blending of Tribe classics with their new material, as orchestrated by Ali Shaheed. From “The Space Program” to “Excursions”, “Whateva Will Be” to “Electric Relaxation” and more, Jarobi and Q-Tip traded bars while also seeming to adjust to the altitude; you could tell that ATCQ was not fully ready for the altitude in the beginning, but that soon disappeared after each song.
Consequence was not with the group at the beginning of their tenure, but he fit right in with his energy and contributions to the show.
Add in the fact that he performed one of his classics “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” when the others needed to catch their breath, and you would think he was there from the beginning. Almost the entire crew was in the building. However, someone was missing.
The one person who was missing was Busta Rhymes.
Jarobi and Q-Tip did Busta proud as they traded off filling in for the signature sound of numerous songs with the group. One thing’s for sure, you likely won’t hear those two do his verses all that often after this tour; it was a fun quirk that was one of many throughout the night.
All good things come to an end
Classic after classic, surprise after surprise (Q-Tip beatboxed, the aforementioned solo performance from Consequence, etc.) the night began to wind down, and both the crowd and the band didn’t want it to come to a close.
Q-Tip spoke to the crowd a couple of times, including a tearful announcement that this was Tribe’s last show in Denver. Ever.
He didn’t expect to tear up, and many fans didn’t expect to hear this news (although previous shows this year ATCQ has said this in other cities). However, things didn’t end on a sad note.
Quite the contrary, the night ended with a bang.
“Bonita Applebum” led into the final song of the night,”Check The Rhime”. Again, Phife’s picture came up in the background, and supposedly the crew was done. Until the encore, that is.
“Can I Kick It?” then began playing before the lights came back up and Q-Tip and co. returned to a rambunctious crowd. “Award Tour” followed, with Q-Tip starting the song over three times, not because of technical issues, but because the energy at Red Rocks called for it.
Lastly, the song I had been waiting for (amongst many others) was cued up by Ali Shaheed: “We The People”.
Before and after this track, Tip and Jarobi had the crowd shout “We the people!” and “We are equal!”. It was a nod to the current political climate in the US, and how disjointed things have become in the US as seen by ATCQ. It was an appropriate end to a timeless night.
Tribe showed that they had it from here, before thanking the fans for their service.