Monday, March 05, 2007

Scritti Hearts ATCQ

[from MOJO, 2006. Green was a STAR]

Green Gartside on A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders

"I’D BEEN in love with hip-hop since the first time I went to New York in 1979 and visited the Mudd Club and saw Afrika Bambaataa spin records. But then I grew tired of it. I was seduced by Dancehall; I heard Clement Irie and Robert French’s ‘Bun & Cheese’, a dancehall version of ‘Earth Angel’ and it blew my mind. During that period I worked with Shabba Ranks – I think I was the first person outside of Jamaica to collaborate with him. And I got a lot of stick for it, because he said some bad things about gay men, which was regrettable. But I also worked with Miles Davis, and he also said a lot of objectionable things. What are you gonna do?

"I was living in Wales at the time. I was sick of the music industry: I had a music room I never went in. But Midnight Marauders rocked my world all over again. I’d sit and play it over and over and over... It got me back into wanting to make beats, to make music, and reignited my obsession with Hip-Hop. I hated anything that wasn’t hip-hop.

"Midnight Marauders is like a hip hop Sgt Pepper’s – it really repays repeated listening. One of its great strengths is its musicality, the way producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad programmed the beats, the samples he chose, the crunch of the crackly vinyl and the drums. Something shifts musically every 32 bars or so, a new loop or some new idea; the tracks develop almost like ‘proper songs’. Although, ironically, what I first loved about hip-hop is that it wasn’t like ‘proper’ songs, just voices and a drum-machine. Lyrically, they shifted perspective brilliantly, from rapping about getting a milk-shake to something like ‘Sucka Nigga’. Q-Tip’s voice is a trip in itself, and I loved all Phiphe Dawg’s dancehall references.

"Midnight Marauders got me back into the music room, getting away from writing ‘proper songs’. I had enough technology to sample some drums, getting that vinyl noise – the grit, the dirt – up front. That’s what led to Anomie And Bonhomie; I worked with Bob Power, who engineered Midnight Marauders, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad did a remix for a single, though I never actually met any of Tribe. I’d love to, though.

"I still play it all the time; we listened to it while packing up our gear in the rehearsal room the other night, and it gave us a sudden burst of energy. Our drummer’s 21, he knew all the lyrics, from growing up with it! It got me listening to some of DJ Premier’s old stuff, Nas’s Illmatic, the Jeru The Damaja shit – all of which changed my life. But they’re much harder albums than Midnight Marauders; I thought Mojo readers might better appreciate its musicality."

(c) Stevie Chick 2006

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