25 Years With A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’

Life told through rap.
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25 Years With A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’

Author’s Note: This is a work of fiction. The only thing real about this story is the music.

“The night is on my mind,” November 10, 1993, 12:01 AM

The clock strikes past midnight. A Dodge Dart cruises down the highway.

The cassette starts playing and a woman narrates the journey. She describes it as "precise, bass-heavy and just right."

The car rolls up at an abandoned record store, the casualty of a city consumed by fire 560 days ago.

Two bodies step out of the car. One leaving the age of adolescence, the other just entering it.

The older one turns the handle and forces his way through the broken door. His accomplice right behind him. Both of them ready to hunt for treasure amongst the debris: vinyl and comic books.

The older one fills his duffel bag with records that he’s always dreamed of. Records from his father’s collection that he’s banned from touching. His fingers scroll through a catalog of artists from a bygone era, an era that he can’t wait to recreate with his turntables at home.

The younger one is lost in his own world. A world populated with heroes and villains. Outcasts bestowed with great power and responsibility. Kindred spirits in a fictional universe.

The two figures reconvene and smile at the night’s haul. They glance at a photo above them and feel a hint of remorse. Memories of what the store used to be and the person that owned it.

The ignition starts and the brothers make their way home. Flashing red and blue lights behind them.

“Relax yourself,” November 9, 2003, 12:30 AM

The scene is straight out of a music video: crowded apartment, liquor and other vices on the kitchen counter, couples grinding on a makeshift dance floor.

Somewhere between "Frontin'" and "The Way You Move," he spots her: a brown-eyed woman with hoop earrings and a Yankees bomber jacket.

Somebody puts in a throwback mix CD and “Electric Relaxation” flows through the speakers. The allure of a familiar beat pulling strangers in closer.

Looks turn into "hellos" which turns into an impromptu sit-down on the couch. Two souls intertwine over the grooves of a hypnotic bassline. Him, a 23-year-old law school graduate. Her, a 21-year-old business major.

Laughs are shared, common ground is found and numbers exchange between owners. The promise of a new relationship begins.

“Trials and tribulations that we have to endeavor,” March 9, 2018, 12:59 AM

Problems. A word that has defined his whole adult life.

Heart problems killed his big brother. Marital problems drove his wife into the arms of another man. Respiratory problems are the reason he’s in the hospital right now, praying for the life of his newborn child.

He scrolls through his phone as he waits for a miracle. The smell of grief and antiseptic overwhelming him.

He sees an old friend and smiles. The friend greets him and asks to take him on a ride averaging 95 beats-per-minute. He happily obliges.

The sounds of midnight envelope him once again. The rawness of Phife's lyrics, the smoothness of Tip's beats take his ears hostage, providing temporary shelter from his current storm.

The doctor cuts their reunion short and ushers him into the pediatrics’ ward. Through the glass, he sees motion return to her body, warmth color her cheeks, problems transform into blessings.

He walks into the room and carries his baby girl. The sampled cries of Minnie Riperton scoring this moment

Father and daughter, dancing under fluorescent lights.

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