10 Things We Learned From A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Drink Champs’ Interview
A Tribe Called Quest guested on the latest episode of N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN's Drink Champs podcast, and needless to say, it's a must-listen.
Throughout the 80-minute interview, Q-Tip, Jarobi, Busta Rhymes and Consequence discuss Phife Dawg's death, the making of Tribe's comeback album and their New York roots.
With the drinks flowing, the guys also share numerous untold stories from back in the day, like how a young Pharrell almost appeared on Midnight Marauders, and that time Tip ended up in jail after Tupac bum-rushed the stage at the 1994 Source Awards.
Here are 10 things we learned from A Tribe Called Quest's Drink Champs interview. Listen to the full episode here.
Pharrell Almost Appeared on Midnight Marauders
It’s no secret Pharrell is a huge Tribe fan, but unbeknownst to pretty much everyone outside of the group, he almost appeared on Midnight Marauders (which just so happens to be in his top 20).
According to Q-Tip, Skateboard P used to drive from Virginia to New York and hang out at Tribe shows in the early ’90s, around the time he was starting to make a name for himself under Teddy Riley. After becoming cool with Tip and Phife, Pharrell swung by the studio and recorded a verse for Midnight Marauders, although Tip didn’t specify which song. According to Consequence, Pharrell also submitted beats for Tribe's 1996 LP Beats, Rhymes & Life.
For whatever reason, Pharrell never made the cut, but at least he landed on Tribe’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm reissue in 2015 thanks to a “Bonita Applebum” remix.
Q-Tip Chopped It Up With Lupe After the Tribe Lyrics Fiasco
In 2007, Lupe Fiasco came under fire after flubbing his lines while performing Tribe’s “Electric Relaxation” at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. In his defense, Lupe confessed that he didn’t grow up on Tribe (he preferred the gangsta rap sounds of N.W.A and Spice-1) and only performed the song at Q-Tip’s insistence. The whole thing even had a name: “Fiascogate.”
During the Drink Champs episode, N.O.R.E. talks about how “offended” and “mad” he was at Lupe for messing up Tribe’s lyrics, but Q-Tip never held a grudge. “N*ggas was on him! I was like, that’s the young bruh, let me just reach out, it’s all good,” he says. “We was talking and he was like, ‘I never meant no offense.’ I was like, ‘it’s all good!’ At one point, he was like, ‘I see you trying to teach me a lesson.’ We both had a little laugh about it. It was always cool with bro.”
Q-Tip Wasn’t a Fan of Kanye’s “Extra Shit"
“We came from the bottom, everybody know what it is, you know how we raised and all that, but it’s no need for a n*gga to stand on stage and flaunt that,” Tip says in response to Kanye asking Jay Z and DJ Khaled to not send their “killers” after him during one of his controversial performances last month. “Every n*gga I know who came from that is trying to get up out there. For us, we just trying to do this music, my n*gga. All that extra shit is just extra shit.”
However, Tip says he’s cool with Kanye and still wants to have that “discussion” with him privately. “I will continue to reach and talk to my nigga, personally,” he says. “We not from that pedigree that we talk to niggas publicly, airing shit out. That’s my man and it’s my family, so we gon’ have our talk and we gon’ be aiight.”
The Idea For “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” Came From Sanford and Son
Q-Tip shared this story in the Beats, Rhymes & Life documentary, but for those who haven’t seen it, it’s worth telling again. According to Q-Tip, the idea for Tribe’s “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” came from Redd Foxx’s character from the ’70s sitcom Sanford and Son. “N*gga always be like, ‘Esther! I’ma leave you in El Segundo if you…,’” he says. “He always made El Segundo references on that shit.” Not only had Tribe never been to El Segundo before, they didn’t even think it was a real place. “We thought it was some imaginary shit,” Jarobi adds. “What the fuck is an El Segundo?”
Also, Tip does a mean Fred Sanford impression.
Q-Tip Wrote “Bonita Applebum” When He Was 15-Years-Old
As if Q-Tip’s genius wasn’t already cemented, the guy wrote one of Tribe’s greatest ever songs when he was still in high school. Tip elaborated on the making of “Bonita Applebum” in an interview with VIBE back in 2012. “I did a lot of People’s Instinctive Travels already on pause-tapes before we started recording when I was in the 10th grade at 16-years-old,” Tip said. “Actually, I did ‘Bonita Applebum’ when I was 15. I had a different couple of versions of that song and then I flipped it to another version when I turned 18.”
“One Love” Was the First Beat Q-Tip Played For Nas
Illmatic's “One Love” was not only the first song Nas and Q-Tip released together, it was also the first song they recorded together. “We talking about New York City in ‘91,” Tip says. “Our equipment was set up at Phife house in the basement. I heard [Nas] off of [‘Live at the Barbeque’] and Large [Professor] came to me specifically and asked me if I had something for him. The first shit I played was the “One Love” shit. He was like, ‘yo, play that shit again. That’s it. We gotta just get right to that.’”
Q-Tip Spent a Few Nights In Jail Due to a “Little Incident” That Took Place After Tupac Interrupted Tribe at The 1994 Source Awards
The 1994 Source Awards sparked an unlikely—but thankfully short-lived—rivalry between A Tribe Called Quest and Tupac after ‘Pac started performing mid-way through Tribe’s acceptance speech. As it turns out, the whole thing was a misunderstanding due to the sound guy playing ‘Pac’s DAT tape too early. But at the time, “it got a little ugly,” according to Tip. “We had a little incident, me and a couple of my n*ggas," he says. "I had to go sit down in the tombs for a couple nights.” However, Tip didn’t elaborate on what that incident was, nor is there any record online of him being in jail (except for the time he “backhanded” a photographer for taking a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio at a nightclub).
2Pac Was Trying to Organize a Public Truce With Tribe on BET Before His Death
Following that “miscommunication” at The Source Awards, Tupac made a real effort to make peace with Tribe. “Ali saw Pac, Pac was like, ‘yo, I never meant no disrespect. I love y’all n*ggas! Is you crazy?’” says Tip. The pair met up in L.A. shortly after and made plans to televise a public truce on BET. Unfortunately, ‘Pac passed away before they could make it happen.
N.W.A Inspired A Tribe Called Quest, Who In Turn Inspired Dr. Dre
“When Dre did Straight Outta Compton, me and Ali used to ride around listening to that crazy. We would be listening to Geto Boys, Willie D, Scarface and N.W.A early. N*ggas would be like, ‘what’s that y’all n*ggas listening to?!’" Tip recalls. "[Dre’s] shit made me think about The Low End Theory, and then the n*gga would be like, 'yo, when you did that shit, that shit made me think about The Chronic.'” Talk about the circle of
Q-Tip Wants to Produce For A$AP Ferg and Don Q
If “Dis Generation” taught us anything, it’s that Tribe aren’t here to complain about the new cats. In fact, Q-Tip says he’s a huge fan of A$AP Ferg and Don Q, and even wants to produce for them. He’s also down to work with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Young M.A. Just imagine all four of them over a beat like “We The People.” Now there’s a posse cut waiting to happen.
By Andy James. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram