"Damn, we ain't prophets/And if you think so, you need to stop it." A Tribe Called Quest launch that fiery verbal projectile in "Get a Hold," a slamming, paradox-driven track from the group's near-flawless fourth album, Beats, Rhymes and Life. A denial that serves as confirmation, the couplet snaps and frames the essence of this collection: selfless social commentary sneaked in between immodest claims to greatness. Elsewhere in "Get a Hold," rapper Ali Shaheed Muhammad tosses an elaborate baseball metaphor ("I'll send the mike out the park like Reggie Jackson/You'll be the minor leaguer who sees no action") that turns into a curveball of a challenge ("The brother well-prepared is the brother who will start"). It's a self-congratulatory gesture that's transformed into a universal truth. But that's still just the surface. Veer from the main plot to the secondary one, and we're told Tribe — which also include the rappers Q-Tip and Phife — are back "to redirect [the] vision" of positivity put forth in the late '80s by the Native Tongues school of hip-hop (Tribe, De La Soul, Queen Latifah and others) that got derailed in the '90s by the massive success of gangsta rap. Tribe criticize whack MCs… Read full this story
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